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Author of " The Clammer," " Old Harbor," " Burbury Stoke," etc. 




(STlje fittoerrfibe preW Cambridge 



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I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Clifford 
W. Ashley for his kindness in reading the proof of this 
book and in making various corrections and suggestions. 

W. J. H. 



Lancing a Whale Frontispiece 

Fitting Out 12 

Cutting-In 74 

Bailing Case 88 

Harpooning Porpoise 122 

Lowering Boats 194 

The Mate 280 

A Nantucket Sleigh-Ride 810 



I am nearing the evening of life. Many people think of 
me, I know, as a man who has attained to as much as one 
can reasonably hope for in this life — if they think of me 
at all. It is not so much, after all. The things I have 
aimed for and missed seem, at times, much more impor- 
tant than those I have had. But I put this thought by. 
Youth expects a good deal ; and when one is young — and 
for a long time after ; indeed, until a man is old — he finds 
hope at the bottom of the cup, enough of it to drown the 
taste of the bitter draught he has taken. I have evolved 
the theory that a man is old only when, the cup drained, 
there is no hope left in it. Thank God, I have not yet 
reached that point. 

But I am inclined to reminiscence, and it scares me 
somewhat, for proneness to reminiscence is a symptom of 
age. I know that well, and garrulity is its sister. I am go- 
ing to give my inclination to reminiscence play in writing 
of an experience of my youth. It may help to prevent me 
from boring my friends, and if you find this narrative be- 
coming tedious, nothing is easier than to put the book 

I was born in New Bedford, on Mill Street, in 1857. 
My father was Timothy Taycox, a ship carpenter, and a 
good one; a great whacking man, with a pleasant face 
and the neck of a bull. My mother was — well, she was 
my mother. I remember her always as kind and loving, 
and, indeed, so was my father; but my mother — well, 


I cannot seem to get beyond that — she was my mother. 
I must have tried her greatly and often, but she never 
failed me, and I worshipped her, so far as it is in a boy 
who is healthy and strong and a roamer by nature. I had 
two brothers, one older and one younger than myself. I 
might make a history of my relations with my brothers, 
especially the older, who used to pick upon me shame- 
fully as long as I was unable to hold my own, but that 
is none of my purpose. 

My first school was on North Street. My recollections 
of that school are vivid, and interesting — to me; but I 
suppose the school was not unlike other schools of its size 
and character. It was a small school, with about twenty- 
five scholars. The afternoon session was over at four 
o'clock, and then I set my face to the wharves, as the 
needle to the pole, except in the shortest days of winter. 
It was often warm for long periods during the winter. 
Two or three of us, kindred spirits, went together, some- 
times running all the way, sometimes merely wandering, 
but always bringing up at about the same place. That 
was generally at the foot of Hamilton Street. Hamilton 
Street is a little street not much more than a hundred feet 
long, offset from the foot of William Street. It leads 
down very steeply from Water Street to a wharf, and 
its very name brings up before my mind a picture of a 
pair of heavy horses breasting the hill vigorously, drag- 
ging a low truck loaded with barrels of oil, and stirring 
up with their feet the powdery black dust of the street. 

These low trucks were very generally used in New 
Bedford. The body was hung below the axles, and cleared 
the ground by perhaps eight inches. They had no sides, 
and the barrels of oil were rolled up on them and stood 
on end, and with the continual shaking and rattling 
about they wore deep grooves into the flooring of the 
truck. It was a new truck which was not grooved in rings 
fore and aft of the great beam which served for an axle. 


The basements of the buildings on that steep hill were 
shipping offices, or the offices of oil merchants, or the 
agents of ships. Indeed, you could hardly go into an office 
from Water Street to the water-front without seeing sea- 
chests stacked along the walls, with the name of some 
ship painted on the front of each chest. Not all of the 
offices of owners or agents of whalers were within this 
area, but they were not far from it. Wing's outfitting 
store, where I suppose all the business connected with 
their ships was done, was on Union Street, about a block 
above Water. 

At that time and for some years after there was no 
railroad along the water-front, and nothing to impede the 
long line of trucks and small boys wending to and fro. 
About where the railroad is now there was usually a row 
of oil barrels on their sides, looking fresh and black and 
greasy. Gaugers were apt to be busy about them. And 
just beyond, on the throat of the wharf, were two struc- 
tures like pens, enclosures fenced in with old ships' 
sheathing which showed plainly the nail holes, the white 
efflorescence and the greenish stain which proclaimed the 
fact that they had sailed thousands of miles of salt ocean 
with the copper next them. These pens were on either 
side of the entrance to the wharf, and between them was 
a lane, deep in powdery black dust, and just about wide 
enough for a truck. Over the tops of the fences of sheath- 
ing could be seen seaweed bleached white with age, and 
flourishing green land weeds, nodding and waving in the 
wind. Under the seaweed, I was told, were barrels of oil 
which their owner had packed away there some years be- 
fore. He was waiting for a rise in price. The barrels may 
be there yet, but if they are they must be nearly empty. 
The oil will have leaked out. 

I describe these things, naturally enough, as the pic- 
ture of them forms in my mind; and that is as they ap- 
peared in the summer. For I just about lived along the 


wharves and on the water during the summers. I remem- 
ber very clearly the five old hulks which lay in the dock 
at the foot of Union Street. One of them was the bark 
Phenix. I cannot now recall the names of the others. All 
of them were stripped of everything down to their masts. 
Not a yard nor a topmast was left, nor anything remov- 
able without breaking them up. As I recall their condi- 
tion, even the copper was gone from their sides, as far as 
I could see. They looked battered but mighty, and they 
filled me with sadness. I never ventured on board of them, 
but I examined them minutely and repeatedly from the 
wharves on either side, and I knew every patch and stain. 
I have sat by the hour atop of a pile to which hawsers 
were made fast, and I have sailed in imagination through 
storm and through sunny seas in those oM ships, and 
have had all kinds of hair-raising adventures. 

It was a rare occasion when any one of the wharves — 
at any rate the three or four wharves from Union Street 
north — had no ships lying beside it. There were usually 
two or three beside each wharf, and sometimes more ; dis- 
charging or fitting or being repaired. My father was al- 
ways at work upon some ship, on a staging in the dock 
alongside. I never tired of watching him at work, and 
would sit for hours on the stringpiece just above him or 
on the wharf opposite, while he removed from the side or 
the bottom of the vessel " hove-down " ribs which had 
begun to rot, and put others in their places; or renewed 
the planking on the bottom. 

" Heaving down " for repairs was a common occur- 
rence. A tackle was fastened to the mast and to a special 
heaving-pile on the wharf. There were several of these 
heaving-piles on each wharf, each firmly anchored by 
great masses of rock. I have seen scores of ships hauled 
down. The sails were always unbent — stripped — from 
the yards almost the first thing after a ship came in, but 
the yards were often in place on a vessel when she was 


hove down. They were braced well around, of course, or 
she could not have been hove over very far before her 
main yard would touch the wharf. Then they heaved on 
the tackle, and the vessel was heaved over upon her bilge, 
exposing the bottom on one side. I have often seen a ves- 
sel's keel entirely exposed in this way. The exposed side 
of the bottom was as easily got at in this position as if she 
had been in dry dock; perhaps rather more easily. The 
carpenters worked from float stages alongside, and the 
ship was let up little by little as they worked up from the 
keel. First the copper was ripped off, then the sheathing, 
and then the planking, and then the ribs taken out, if 
any of them needed to be replaced. I have seen the bare 
bones of many a ship exposed in this way, and it would 
be possible to rebuild a ship completely, first one side and 
then the other, without taking her out of the water. I 
have no doubt that it has been done. 

As long as I was pretty small I was fairly well con- 
tented to sit on the stringpiece, with the sun on my back, 
and watch my father ; or to sit on one of the low, smooth, 
round-butted mooring-piles — always called " spiles " in 
New Bedford — and gaze out over the harbor. It was 
a beautiful harbor. It is a beautiful harbor now; but 
there seems to me to be something lacking, and less of 
that atmosphere of peace and serenity which I loved. Al- 
though there are still a few of the old square-riggers 
left there are many days and weeks together when not 
one of them is at the wharves, and I have not seen a ves- 
sel hove down in many years. It is no longer to be ex- 
pected that, as one turns into Hamilton Street, there 
will appear the once familiar tracery of masts and yards 
hanging like a net before his eyes; not a forest of masts, 
perhaps, but enough of them to warm his heart. Some of 
the yards had sails hanging from them and flapping 
gently in the breeze, and on some the sails were neatly 
furled, but most of them were bare. A jobbing wagon 


would be driven upon the wharf in a whirl of the black 
dust, and would discharge its load of sailors, many of 
them natives of one of the Western Islands, or of Brava, 
some very black, as I recall them, with great hoops of thin 
gold in their ears; and their dunnage, some of it in sea- 
chests, but much done up in shapeless bundles in a gay 
colored cloth or in a sheet. They were fine, upstanding 
men, talking and laughing among themselves, and the 
familiar way in which they handled the lances and har- 
poons and the other boat-gear excited my envy. They had 
come from the home of such gentry in South Water Street, 
a part of the town known as Fayal. Fayal — the South 
Water Street Fayal — had an unsavory reputation. 

These men and the white sailors who came with them 
were bound for the vessel with sails on her yards, for 
she was about ready to set out on a voyage of two or 
three or four years. In those days voyages averaged be- 
tween three and four years in length. There was always 
great confusion, as it seemed to me: piles of boxes and 
barrels and casks, a mate or two shouting orders, sweat- 
ing men getting the things aboard, some lengths of chain 
cable, coils of new rope which creaked as they were 
bandied, and innumerable odds and ends. I watched and 
wondered until, at last, the tug came alongside, lines 
were cast off, and the vessel was taken out into the stream 
to anchor there overnight. The crew were kept busy 
there, stowing things, but even then there was apt to be 
a great litter on the decks when she was finally taken in 
tow by the tug. The tug cast her off somewhere below 
Sow and Pigs — somewhere between Sow and Pigs and 
Block Island — and, with a farewell blast of her whistle, 
turned about and came home again. But I did not wit- 
ness that ceremony until I was fifteen. 

When the ship had hauled out into the stream I would 
sit on my favorite pile and gaze out at her and at the 
harbor. She usually anchored in the channel near Palmer's 


Island, almost in line with Fort Phoenix on the Fair- 
haven side. I sat on my pile and gazed at her, look- 
ing trim and seaworthy — as she was in fact — and en- 
vied the black boys with the thin gold hoops in their ears, 
and dreamed dreams, as I suppose all boys do, even the 
most matter-of-fact of them. Those dreams of mine were 
to come true. Instead of the whitewashed walls of Fort 
Phoenix and the whitewashed lighthouse on Palmer's 
Island, I saw a heaving ocean under a sunny sky, and off 
upon the surface of that ocean I saw feathery clouds of 
vapor slowly rise, like the drooping white ostrich plume 
on Ann McKim's hat; and the feathery shafts of vapor 
drifted off and vanished, and from the masthead floated 
down to me the melodious cry, " Bl-o-ows !" And I roused 
with a start, and there was nothing before my eyes but 
the low whitewashed brick wall of Fort Phoenix and the 
whitewashed lighthouse on Palmer's Island, and the smil- 
ing surface of the harbor, and the ship waiting there. 

I used to row about a good deal, when I had money 
enough to hire a boat — good boats were ten cents an 
hour — or when I thought I could depend upon the good 
nature of Al Soule, who had boats to let. I could not swim 
a stroke. It is not unusual for men who have much to do 
with the water to neglect to learn to swim. For a sailor, 
what use is it? — they ask. He is apt to be weighed 
down with sea boots and heavy clothes, and the weather 
is usually such when a man falls overboard that it is im- 
possible to pick him up anyway. Mind you, these are not 
my own ideas I am giving. A whaleman needs to know 
how to swim, if he would save his life, and not depend 
too nearly upon others. It is a good thing for a boy to 
know, even if he is not going whaling. I would have a 
boy learn as soon as he can walk — or a girl either. It 
is the source of a great deal of pleasure. 

It happened that the father of my best friend had a 
boat, a thirty-five-foot sloop. Naturally enough I was 


asked to go sailing in it whenever Jimmy went. Jimmy 
Appleby was the boy's name. The sloop was rather old- 
fashioned, even for those days, and our going out in her 
was not all play. John Appleby found us of some help 
even when we were only ten, and we learned quickly to 
*help in hoisting sail, and to tend sheets, and to reef, and 
to steer, and to do the other little odd jobs in connection 
with sailing a boat. I have gone out on the footropes of 
the bowsprit many a time when I was not turned twelve, 
and it had come on to blow, and she was plunging into a 
head sea — she pitched fearfully, with her shallow body, 
and a head sea just about stopped her — and I have been 
trying to stow the jib — not to furl it, just to tie it 
down any way — and holding on for my J^fe, and have 
been plunged to my neck in one sea after another as she 
dived into them. That sloop was the champion high diver. 
I do not think that that experience ever imbued me with 
the desire to learn to swim. I was concerned only with 
holding on and getting my j ob done as soon as possible. 

I have no clear recollection of my usual standing at 
school, except that I have the impression that I was apt 
to be in hot water from one cause or another. I must have 
done reasonably well in my studies, for I graduated from 
the Grammar School before my fifteenth birthday, but my 
active interests were not there. The memories that surge 
up and clamor to be let loose are those of the water-front, 
the wharves, the ships, the harbor, and the bay. 


One morning toward the end of June in the year 1872 I 
was on the wharf at the foot of Hamilton Street, where I 
was most apt to be. My father and a gang of ship carpen- 
ters were busy at the bottom of a ship that was hove 
down there, and they were working on float stages along 
her side. I have forgotten the name of the ship. It was yet 
eyly, for in those days carpenters went to work at seven 
and stopped at six or thereabouts, and no man that I ever 
knew of the old class of artisans would leave his hammer 
in the air, but he would work a few minutes more, if that 
was necessary to finish what he was at, and they were a 
contented, happy lot — superior men, as a rule. 

The merry sound of the mauls was not merry to my 
ears, for I was restless and discontented, I remember, al- 
though there was nothing that should have made me so. 
But I was just through school, and although my father 
and my mother had said nothing about my getting to 
work, and my father had done nothing about it — fathers 
were apt to do something about it in those days, getting 
their sons apprenticed to whatever trade seemed good to 
them, without much regard to the preference of the sons 
— although my father had done nothing about it, I say, I 
knew that I was expected to get to work with no more 
delay than was reasonable. Both my father and my 
mother were wise people, and they wanted me to have 
time and opportunity to look about me and decide for 
myself what I preferred to do, for my decision would 
involve my whole life, very probably, and greatly affect 
my happiness. When I had decided, I knew that I could 
depend upon my father to help me to the best of his 
ability; and that would be considerable, for my father 


was a man of some influence in his way, and especially in 
his trade. He had already helped my older brother Tom, 
who had chosen my father's trade, a choice which greatly 
pleased my father at the time. Tom was at his ship car- 
pentering then on one of the stages with the men, and he 
had served three years of his apprenticeship. My younger 
brother, Joshua, was already planning to go into the same 
trade, but my father was rather lukewarm about it. He 
did not say why, but I can guess now that he was begin- 
ning to see that it was a trade that was doomed to ex- 

Joshua had two years more at school, and before the 
two years were up he had changed his mind. He became 
a machinist, and went into structural steel work, and then 
into building steel ships. In 1917 both of my brothers were 
busy: Tom, at sixty-three, turning out wooden ships at 
Bath as fast as he could get the timber and men to put 
them together, and Joshua, at fifty-seven, turning out 
steel ships with a tremendous clatter in a sort of gigantic 
boiler-works. I could not stand Josh's shipyard, while I 
enjoyed being in Tom's. I enjoyed it better than Tom 
enjoyed having me there, for they were very busy, but 
the men were all old men and they could not be driven be- 
yond a certain pace; but they came to the yard at four 
o'clock of a summer morning. 

On that morning in Jurie, 1872, I was making my 
choice, although I was not aware of it, but knew only that 
I felt discontented and uneasy and rather wanted to fight 
somebody. If Jimmy Appleby had been there I should 
probably have fought him — we fought often, without 
rancor, and without a decision — and the whole course -of 
my life would have been changed. But Jimmy's father had 
put him to work, and he was not there, and there was 
nothing for me to do but to wander about the wharf, 
watching the men swinging their mauls; and I could not 
see much of that, except at the bow and the stern, for the 


vessel was hove down over the wharf, and her hull hid 
them. From the other side of the dock I should have had 
a fine view, but I saw it so often that I did not care much 
for it, and I suppose I did not think of it, being taken up 
with my restless state of mind, which impelled me to and 
fro. It sent me to the end of the wharf, where I stood 
upon the stringpiece and looked down into the water just 
below. It was of an unhealthy, greenish cast, not like the 
green of the sea. It looked filthy, but I saw an immense 
school of little fish nosing around the piles of the wharf. 

A whaler was at one of the Fairhaven wharves, and a 
number of other boats were scattered along the water- 
front, most of them small. I was about to look farther 
down toward the ferry slip and railroad station, but there 
lay a whaler in the stream, all ready to start; probably 
waiting for some of her crew, or for her captain to get 
his papers at the Custom House. I knew the vessel. It 
was the Clearchus. She had been fitting for some time, at 
the wharf next above the one I was on, and I had watched 
the caulkers, the carpenters and the riggers busy at 
her, each in their turn. The desire must have been con- 
ceived and born and got well grown without my being 
aware of it until that minute, but I knew it then. I looked 
at her lying there on the water that was ruffled under a 
southwest breeze, some great pennant flying at her mast- 
head — I suppose it had her name on it, or the name of 
her owners, for I know it was white with a blue border 
and some blue letters in the centre — and there was not 
wind enough to keep it out straight enough for me to read 
the letters, but it would roll up and fall nearly straight 
down, and then unroll lazily and whip out to its length 
for just an instant, and drop and roll up again before I 
could make out a single one. She must have been waiting 
for her crew, for I saw only two men aboard of her, and 
they were doing nothing, but leaned upon the rail, which 
was at the height of their shoulders. 


I had among my most treasured possessions two little 
books, in paper-covered boards, " The Eventful History 
of the Mutiny of the Bounty " and " Lives and Voyages 
of Early Navigators, with a History of the Bucaniers." 
They could not be called new books even then, in 1872, 
for they were published by the Harpers in 1832 and 
1833. They are beside me at this moment, the paper-cov- 
ered boards torn and stained, and the pages dirty and 
much thumbed. Some of that thumbing had already been 
done, for I had found the tales of adventure in the books 
absorbingly interesting. No doubt I was thinking, as I 
gazed at the Clearchus over the smiling waters of the 
harbor, of that huge black savage of the Patagones who 
came capering and singing down to the shore to greet 
Magellan, his face painted red and yellow; or of Otaheite 
and its middle-aged queen — if that is what she was — a 
chiefess separated from her husband, and languishing 
for Wallis. Although of course I knew better, I always 
thought of those coasts and seas as they were in the times 
of Magellan and Wallis. I had an intense desire to visit 
them. But I have no clear recollection of what I was 
thinking of. I must have given a thought to Jimmy 
Appleby. I know that I stayed there, wandering im- 
patiently to and fro, or standing at the stringpiece watch- 
ing the Clearchus, waiting for twelve o'clock and praying 
that her captain might have trouble in filling his crew at 
the last minute. 

The Vineyard boat went curving out in a wide sweep, 
another came in; a tugboat pursued its leisurely way 
across the harbor, and I held my breath in fear lest it 
should be bound for the Clearchus — with her crew of 
two; a lightship began to warp into the next dock above, 
preparatory to heaving down for repairs; the Custom 
House boat started out with an inspector to meet a ship 
that had been sighted down the bay; two catboats started 
from Al Soule's for the same purpose; riggers and steve- 



dores were busy on a whaleship in the dock next below, 
getting her spars up and bending on sails; the leisurely 
activities of New Bedford Harbor of nearly fifty years 
ago went on; the sun was warm and the wind light, and 
the smell of tar and sperm oil was heavy on the air, but 
in the lee of the hill the oil smell overpowered everything 
else. I liked that sickish smell of crude sperm oil. I like 
it yet. With that smell in my nostrils I have but to close 
my eyes and I see the warm, sunny harbor, some whaler 
lying in the stream ready to sail, the fluorescent green of 
the water in the dock — its peculiar color due to a mix- 
ture of oil and sewage — some other whaler lying at the 
wharf with her sails hanging limp from her yards, per- 
haps a vessel hove down at the other side of the wharf, 
and I heard the sound of mallets and the laughter and the 
talk of men on the still air. 

Fifty years ago I was actually hearing these things, 
waiting impatiently for twelve o'clock. But I waited, for 
I wanted to speak to my father alone. At last I heard the 
bell in the Stone Church tower sound noon, but the sound 
of the mauls did not stop at once, but one after another; 
then a few strokes of a single beetle, and I heard it laid 
down. The men had already begun to come up. My 
father was the last, and I watched him with some pride, 
a big, brawny, smiling man. I wished I were btg and 
brawny and smiling, like him. And he saw me standing 
there, and smiled more than ever, a personal smile and 
tender in a way. 

He put his hand on my shoulder. " Well, Timmie," he 
said. " You here yet ? I thought you would have gone 
home long ago. Dinner '11 be waiting. What is it, boy? 
Walk along with me and tell me. I can see it 's something 
bothering you." 

My brother Tom had started walking with us, but we 
were too slow for him, and he had run ahead. It was Big 
Tim and Little Tim. My father was always known as 
Big Tim. 


I did not know how to begin, so I said nothing, but I 

My father saw the struggle. He smiled again. " Out 
with it, Timmie," he said. 

I raised my eyes slowly, and I am afraid that tears 
were in them. 

" I want to go whaling, father," I blurted out. 

His smile faded swiftly. " Do you ? " he said. " Do 
you ? I hoped it would n't be that. It begins to look — or 
it has been looking for some time as if the whaling busi- 
ness would die out. It won't be a good business for some 
time, if it does n't go from bad to* worse. Have you 
thought of that, Timmie ? " 

I shook my head. " I want to go whaling," I said again. 

He laughed, and then he sighed. " It 's a bad business 
for your mother and me," he said, " to have our boy 
starting out on a voyage at fifteen for three or four years. 
But if you will you will, and I 'd better see about getting 
you a berth." He turned and looked at the ship in the 
dock below. " There 's a vessel the riggers should be 
through with soon. She should sail in a couple o' weeks 
or thereabouts. I might get you in there. What do you 
say, Timmie ? " 

" Where is she going, father ? " 

" Well," he answered slowly, " it 's always hard to tell 
where a whaler 's going. Wherever whales promise. But 
we braced and strengthened her for Ar'tic work. She 's a 
good vessel now, Timmie, and thoroughly braced. I think 
likely she '11 round the Horn, and make the Ar'tic next 
season. If she has luck in the South Seas she may hang 
over there another winter, and not try the Ar'tic until the 
next year. But the Ar'tic 's where she 's going sooner or 

" I don't want to go to the Ar'tic, father. Where 's the 
Clearchus going ? " 

My father looked around in surprise. 


'* The Clearchus ! " he exclaimed. " Why she 's in the 
stream. Her crew '11 be aboard in an hour or two. Cap'n 
Nelson expects to sail to-day." 

" But where 's she going f " 

" Going sperm whaling, Hatteras, South Atlantic, In- 
dian Ocean, probably, and South Seas. I don't know, and 
I don't suppose Cap'n Nelson knows. She is n't going to 
the Ar'tic, that 's sure." 

" If her crew is n't aboard pretty soon," I objected, 
" she can't sail to-day." 

" Well, no," my father said, " probably won't. Could 
of course, if he wanted to, but 't is n't likely. Might go 
below and anchor, but what are you up to, Timmie ? 
Going on the Clearchus ? " And my father smiled as he 
asked the question, as though it were absurd. 

" I 'd like to, father," I said. " I want to go on a ship 
that 's going sperm whaling in the warm oceans ; to the 
South Seas. I — I 've always wanted to see the South 

My father smiled again. " ' Always ' is a long word, 
Timmie. How long does it stand for? And as for seeing 
an ocean — why, one ocean 's much like another — ex- 
cept the Ar'tic. You might think you were out on the bay 
with Jimmie. And a couple of hours' notice is n't much 
for your mother and me, is it, now ? — going off for three 
or four years ? " 

" No-o, I suppose not. But I did n't know what I 
wanted until I saw the Clearchus out there. I know now. 
And I '11 come back, father. Of course I hate to leave you 
and mother — " 

My father laughed at that. 

" Yes," he said, " you seem to. But never mind, Tim- 
mie, I know how you feel. Perhaps it 's just as well. We 
shan't have the month of dreading it, and it '11 be over 
before we know it. I '11 do the best I can for you, but I 
can't promise. Nelson may be having trouble of soma 


kind. I '11 just drop in at the Custom House on the chance 
of finding him there, and if he is n't we '11 run ove« to 
Wing's to see what they can tell us. But you mustn't 
fret if it can't be done." 

I almost danced with joy, and I promised not to fret. 
I knew that I should not fret at a thing that could not 
be done. I have never done that. I do the most and the 
best that I can, and am quite cheerful over the outcome. 
I was always the same; and what better can a man do 
than his best, and accept the result with a cheerful heart ? 
But if we had made no attempt to find the captain I 
should have fretted at having left something undone and 
possibly lost a chance that I might have had. 

We had been walking slowly up William Street as we 
talked, and it was abreast of Eggers's little gunshop — 
where I had been used to go for my supply of fishlines 
and hooks — that my father virtually gave his consent 
and told me not to fret. The steep, short slope of John- 
nycake Hill was just at our left — the Bourne Whaling 
Museum is now at the top of it — and the Custom House 
was but a few steps away, on the upper corner of the 
next street. I broke away and ran, looking back at my 
father with an ecstatic smile. 

My father laughed again. " Hold on, Timmie," he 
called. " Where 'you going ? " 

" Custom House," I called back. " Cap'n Nelson might 
get away." 

So I ran, leaving my father laughing, and I waited im- 
patiently for a few seconds beside one of the huge Doric 
columns supporting the roof of the portico of that ancient 
pile of granite. It always seemod to me as old as the 
Pyramids. The Post-office then occupied the first floor, 
but there was nobody passing either in or out at that time, 
and my father joined me beside the Doric column. I re- 
member that the broad stone steps seemed not a whit too 
solid and strong for his massive frame as he came up. 


He said nothing, but chuckled as he and I entered to- 
gether that empty, echoing room, and made for the stairs. 
It was — and is yet, I suppose — a curved staircase of 
stone, and never failed to excite my wonder that it stood 
and performed its function, for the granite steps were 
without visible means of support at their outer ends. I 
always mounted it with trepidation, half expecting that 
it would give way beneath me and precipitate me into 
the echoing abyss below. The stone steps were somewhat 
worn by the feet of many captains, and my own feet had 

We entered, and saw a long mahogany counter sur- 
mounted by a glass fence, behind which a man was writ- 
ing, standing at the counter. He had a long, pointed 
beard, sprinkled with gray. He seemed to be alone in that 
spacious room. He was the Deputy Collector. 

We started along beside the counter, which seemed end- 
less, and my father was just, opening the gate when sud- 
denly we heard the sound of voices, as if a door had been 
opened. The voices stopped, and a man stumped toward 
us vigorously. I should say now that he was a youngish 
man, but then I thought him very old. He was about 
forty, with a close-clipped brown beard growing nearly up 
to his eyes, which were gray and piercing, looking out 
from between half-closed lids. Those eyes gave the im- 
pression of being at a great distance, and there was a 
spark of light in them so that they always made me think 
of a lighthouse with its cone of light. Even now I never 
see a lighthouse at a distance of three or four miles that 
I do not think of Captain Nelson's eyes. 

" Hello, Tim," he said, with no apparent intention of 

But my father blocked the gateway. He was a good 
head taller than Captain Nelson. 

" I 'd like to have a word with you, Cap'n, if you have 
time. I won't keep you long. Don't you want a boy ? " 


" A boy ? One of your boys ? This the one ? " He took 
me by the arm and made me face him. I was smiling ner- 
vously. " You want to go whaling ? " 

" Yes, sir/' I said as steadily as I could. " That is, I 
want to go if you 're going to the South Seas." 

Captain Nelson laughed. " No Ar'tic in yours, eh ? 
What you want to go to the South Seas for ? We don't lie 
'round under palm trees and eat breadfruit and watch 
the surf breaking on coral sands, like the pictures in your 
geography books. What 'you been getting hold of ? " 

I squirmed and got very red, and stammered and said 
nothing. 4 

Captain Nelson laughed again, and gave me a little 
shake and let me go. 

" Well, Tim, no need to ask about any of your boys. 
You recommend him, I suppose ? " 

" I do, Cap'n. I 'm sorry he 's taken with whaling, and 
that 's the truth ; and it 's rather sudden, for he 's only 
told me within the last half-hour, and his mother and I 
will hate to have him go off for three or four years. But 
if that 's what he wants I 'd better help than try to hinder 

Captain Nelson nodded. " May be five years, Tim. No 
knowing." He turned suddenly to me. " What 's your 
name ? " 

" Tim, sir." 

" Well, little Tim, I guess we can find room for you. 
May not get the crew in time to sail to-night. Probably 
won't. But you 'd better be on hand and keep an eye out 
for us. Bright and early in the morning, anyway." 

He nodded again, got his clearance papers, and 
stumped out. I stared stupidly after him. 

My father sighed. " Well, Timmie, that was soon done. 
We '11 be late for dinner. Come along." 

And I said nothing, but pegged along beside him down 
the echoing stone stairs, my elation rapidly oozing out at 


my finger-tips. I was beginning to think of the other side 
of it — his side and my mother's — and to be more than 
half sorry for my haste; but what is done is done. Boys 
— and girls too — are thoughtlessly cruel, fortunately for 
them and the world. 

I could not eat much dinner, but went off to my room 
to pack a few things, among them my two precious books. 
It was not a large bundle that I tied up. My father must 
have told my mother as soon as I had gone, for she came 
up to my room as I was tying up my bundle. She had been 
crying, and tears were yet in her eyes, but she smiled di- 
vinely as she stood in my doorway. 

" Well, Timmie, darling," she said gently, " so you 're 
going to leave us. Four years is a long, long time to look 
forward to without you. I had hope that you would 
choose something else. But if you had to choose this it 's 
better to have it soon over, and not to have a month of 
dreading it. And I '11 say nothing but God bless you and 
God keep you, my precious ! " She sat on the bed. " Come 
here, darling boy, and let me have one hug and a kiss to 

So I went, and I threw my arms around her neck, and 
I hid my face. We stayed so for a long time, she rocking 
back and forth, hugging me hard, and whispering to me. 


The Clearchus did not get off that day, and at six o'clock 
my father and I walked home together, my heart like 
lead. The evening passed somehow. We all went up to 
bed at nine, as we always did, while the bell on the Stone 
Church was ringing the curfew; but we might as well 
have stayed up for two or three hours longer, for I could 
not sleep, and I am sure that my mother could not. It had 
begun to rain, a dreary drizzle, before I finally fell 

I was awakened to find my mother standing in my 
doorway. She was smiling, but she looked as if she had 
not slept well. It was already after six. I jumped up, slid 
into my clothes hastily, and joined the family at break- 
fast, but I could scarcely eat. I was glad when my father 
pushed back his plate and got up. I said good-bye simply 
enough to my brothers, and they said good-bye to me, but 
they did not get up. They did not even stop eating. My 
mother came to the door with us. Tears stood in her eyes, 
but she smiled as she gave me a long, close hug. I re- 
turned her hug and her kiss, but I was very near to tears 
and I could not speak, so I bolted out at the door into 
the rain after my father, and I waved my hand to her. 
That was another picture that I carried locked in my 
breast of my mother standing at the open door, in the 
dreary drizzle, looking after me and smiling. Mothers 
have a good deal to bear. I wonder that they stand it. 

We did not get off until after ten o'clock. I was the 
first to see it — I mean the job wagon with its load of 
men and bundles. It was being driven on to the next 
wharf below — Central Wharf it was, although I did not 
know the wharves infallibly by name then. I called to 


my father, took up my bundle, and walked, rather slowly, 
I am afraid, around the head of the dock. The afternoon 
before I should have run. My father caught up with me 
at the head of the wharf. 

The wagon was unloading about halfway down the 
wharf when we got there, and the men were taking out 
their bundles. Those bundles were of all sizes and all 
colors, but all were shapeless, a few in neat canvas bags, 
several in pillow-cases, and the others in gay flame-col- 
ored cloths, red and orange and a peculiar blue, but the 
predominating color was some shade of magenta. It is curi- 
ous how fond those Western Islanders are of magenta. 
The men were grouping themselves, squatting on their 
bundles in the drizzle, or sitting on the rounded tops of 
the mooring-piles or on the stringpiece, or standing. I 
noticed only three of them: a great, gaunt, very black 
man, with thin hoops of gold in his ears, who stood im- 
passively, his arms folded across his breast, and gazed 
at nothing and did not speak; a smaller man, also in- 
tensely black and with similar gold hoops in his ears, who 
sat atop of a pile and smiled and poured a steady stream 
of talk that I could not understand up to the first, and 
the gaunt man smiled now and then, showing a set of 
teeth that were sharp and of a dazzling whiteness; and 
a very old man, who I suppose was originally a white 
man, with fingers permanently bent, like talons, and very 
wrinkled face that looked like leather in texture and in 
color. He was sitting on the stringpiece, his neat canvas 
bag between his knees, and looking up at the two black 
men; and occasionally there would flit over his face a hu- 
morous smile, leaving the look of humor there. On the 
whole it was a quiet crowd, and merry enough, consider- 
ing the weather. A man, who I found afterwards was the 
second mate, moved slowly around among the groups and 
finally stood still, holding converse with none and gazing 
out over the harbor. 


The old man cast his humorous eye up at my father. 

" Lovely morning," he said. 

My father laughed. "If you take it to," he said, " it 'a 
better. After all, what does the weather matter to an old 
sailorman like you ? " 

" Not a bit. I never let it make any difference to me. 
But the talk of these lads," he said, waving a weather- 
beaten hand, with its talon-fingers, at the two black men, 
" always makes me want to laugh. It sounds like monkey 

" Don't you understand it ? " 

He shook his head. " Not me. I nevar learned Portagee. 
I should die laughin' if I tried. They had none in the 
navy in my day." 

My father was interested. " Have you been in the navy ? 
I should have said merchant vessels, but I did n't think 
of the navy." 

The old man nodded. " Oh, aye," he said. " It was the 
navy until the war was over, and I was too old for that, 
and then the merchant service for a couple o' years, and 
then whalin'. Whalin' 's easier. They don't drive a vessel 
so. You weren't goin' on this ship? " 

My father smiled, and laid his great arm across my 

" No, I 'm not going, but — " 

" The boy ? " the old man interrupted. " Is he so ? 
Well, can I be sort of lookin' after him ? I 'd take him 
under my wing with pleasure, perhaps teach him a thing 
or two, and try to keep him out o' trouble." 

My father was pleased, and accepted the old sailor's 
offer; and he told him of his own experience in the navy, 
and they swapped yarns for half an hour. The old man 
had been a boatswain in the navy. He was only fifty-eight, 
he said. I don't wonder he put it that way. The second 
mate had moved, and I looked up and saw the Helen 
Augusta, our largest tugboat, just about to make a land- 
ing at the end of the wharf. 


I seized my father's arm in a panic. 

He smiled. There was something infinitely protective 
in my father's smile. 

" I 'm going down with you, Timmie, and come back 
in the tug. It 's too wet to work, luckily, so it won't make 
any difference to me, and I guess Cap'n Nelson '11 let 
me go. Unless," he added, looking at me suddenly, 
" you 'd rather not have me. Perhaps you 'd rather say 
good-bye here. If you would I 'd understand it." 

I shook my head, and clung fast to his arm. I could 
not have spoken to save my life. The old sailor, my new 
friend, was rolling along beside us, his canvas bag over 
his shoulder and sticking out a foot or two fore and aft. 
He glanced at me and smiled, and we all trooped aboard 
the tug on to her upper deck, and the men filed down the 
ladder to a place where it was dry and warm. 

We were about to follow them wh«n we were hailed 
from the pilot house. We obeyed the beckoning finger, 
and in the pilot house we found Captain Nelson and the 
captain of the tugboat, a silent, sour-faced man whose 
name I cannot now remember, although it was then very 
familiar to me. Another man was leaning on the window- 
sill, his head outside, and one hand grasping a spoke of 
the wheel. He shouted some orders, pulled the bell, and 
we backed for a minute against a stern hawser. Then he 
pulled the bell once, and the chug of the engine stopped; 
before the water had stopped its swirling past the side 
he pulled the bell again, the engine chugged once more, 
and the bows turned faster toward the harbor. I was 
looking out at the wharves through a glass covered with 
little fine drops of mist, and I saw one of the men on the 
wharf lift the bight of heavy line over the top of the 
mooring-pile' and drop it into the water as we began to 
go ahead. The man at the wheel pulled the jingle bell, 
and the engine chugged faster, and I could hear little 
familiar noises from the engine, as though it had settled 
down for a day's work. 


I was still looking out through the misty glass at the 
rapidly receding wharves, with the vessel that the rig- 
gers were not through with, the other that my father was 
working on hauled down, the stagings floating in the 
dock beside her; the lightship in the process of being 
hove down; the pens of sheathing and the rows of oil 
barrels; the tops of the wharves themselves, every foot 
of which I knew intimately. I wondered when I should 
next set foot on those familiar wharves; the picture 
blurred a little, and it was not the rain. But I was not 
quite fifteen, and I was going away on a voyage of four 
or five years. At fifteen, four or five years might as well 
be four or five aeons. Our turning had cut off my view of 
the wharves, and we had straightened out for the Clear- 
chus, and the rain was coming dead ahead. 

We were drawing alongside the Clearchus, and we 
made fast and the crew went over the side stolidly, al- 
though some of them seemed merry enough, and my old 
sailor took the whole thing as a joke. Then Captain Nel- 
son went, and my father and I. By the time I had got 
on the deck of the ship the captain had gone aft and was 
talking with the mate. 

I had never happened to be on the Clearchus before, 
and neither had I been on any whaler just starting on a 
voyage. Her deck was well cluttered with all sorts of 
stuff, which there had been no time to stow below, and no 
men to do it. Some of it was covered roughly with tar- 
paulins to keep it from the wet, and it was shoved into 
corners or littered the alleyways between the great 
brick try-works and the bulwarks. The deck itself — 
where it showed at all — was covered with a film of mois- 
ture, and seemed to have sweated just oil enough to make 
it very slippery. 

The deck of an old whaler is full of odd structures. On 
almost all old whaleships there were two small deck- 
houses aft, one on either side, with the wheel and the cabin 


skylight between them; and on many ships this space was 
roofed over, giving the steersman protection in bad 
weather. This was the case on the Clearchus; and there 
was another structure just forward of this after house. 
This " gallows," as it is called, was no more than a roof 
covering the booby-hatch — which led to the steerage ; 
where the boat-steerers slept — supported on posts at the 
corners, the posts inclined sharply inward at the angle of 
the standing rigging. On the top of this roof were three 
spare whale-boats, bottom up. There was a third structure 
— merely a roof — just aft of the foremast, over the try- 
works. The galley was in the starboard side of the after 
house, which may strike some as a very queer place for it, 
but it was always so on a whaler. It was necessarily 
very small, taking up less than half of that side. The 
cabin stairs, or companion, were in the port side of the 
after house. 

We took refuge under the gallows over the booby-hatch, 
from which point we had as clear a view of the deck as 
it was possible to have anywhere except from the scup- 
pers. The deck was anything but clear, and the man at 
the wheel saw the great butts of the masts, the try-works, 
and other things of a more temporary nature, but little 
of the deck, and of the sea before the ship and of the sky 
above nothing at all. There was no need for him to see 
either. He had an unobstructed view of the compass. 

The tug took us about twenty-five miles, but it seemed 
an unbearably short journey on that dull, rainy morning. 
The silence was broken only by the soft noise of the sea, 
and of the ship going through it, and by the creak and 
groan of the hawser on the bitts and of the yards in the 
slings as she rose and fell gently; and by the sound of 
the water dripping from the yards and rigging upon the 
deck, and now and then a voice. Altogether it was a silent, 
gray, dismal journey. Coils of rope hung from the belay- 
ing pins near me, and they swung regularly with the 


motion of the ship. I wished that they would stop. They 
did not, of course, except for a moment, regularly; then 
they began again. 

The time was coming soon when the tug would cast 
off, and my father must go back. We got beyond Devil's 
Bridge, with the Vineyard looming indistinctly, but 
scarcely visible, on our weather beam. The tug whistled, 
and Captain Nelson came to us. 

" Well, Tim," he said, " I guess you '11 have to get 
ready. It 's too rough for the tug to come alongside, but 
I '11 send you over in a boat. She 's dropping us now." 

My father said he was sorry to be so much trouble; 
and Captain Nelson said it was no matter, that it would 
be good practice for the crew. Then he looked at me, and 
put his hand on my shoulder. 

" Timmie," he said gently, " you have n't signed yet, 
and if you want to go back with your father I '11 send 

I shook my head furiously. " No, thank you, sir," I 
said. " I '11 sail with you — if you want me — if you '11 
take me." 

How could I back out then ? I should have been a 
laughing-stock for years, and I should never have a bet- 
ter chance. But I did want to go back with my father. 

Captain Nelson smiled. " I '11 take you, and you '11 get 
over your homesickness when we get a sight of the sun. 
It 's a dismal day to start off." 

They cast off the hawser, and backed the main topsail, 
and the vessel lay there with the seas beating upon her 
while the tug came up abeam, and lay rolling. And they 
came and cast loose the very boat we were standing un- 
der, and the men tailed on to the falls, and the boat was 
lowered until it was level with the rail; and two of the 
crew tumbled in to look after the falls, and my father 
gave me one hug, and I clung to him for a moment. 

" Good-bye, Timmie," he whispered. " I '11 give your 


love to your mother. Be a good boy, and do a little morn 
than is expected of you. Be ready to do a man's work 
when you are able, and let us be proud of you when you 
come home." 

The men began to slack away on the falls. I watched 
the men slide down the falls as the boat touched the 
water, my father among them; and the falls were un- 
hooked quickly, two men holding her off from the side of 
the ship. Then they shoved off, the five long oars took the 
water, and they rowed to the tug, the whaleboat rising to 
the seas as lightly as a cork. And they drew alongside the 
tug, but did not stop, and my father stepped out upon 
the broad rail of the tug and down upon her deck, and 
turned to wave to me. 

As the boat came back the tug started, with long blasts 
of her whistle as a message of farewell to us. My father 
still stood in the gangway, close to her house, and waved 
to me. I watched her as long as I could see her, a mite — • 
• speck tossing on the heaving sea. 


By the next morning the skies had cleared, and there was 
bright sun, with a light breeze from the southwest. It 
had begun to clear soon after midnight, and the stars had 
.come out one by one, with drifts of ragged scud flying 
over. I had not seen it, but I was sleeping soundly, after 
some miserable hours, for I was a very homesick boy. 
Mother and father — even brothers — and home never 
seemed so dear or so far away, and I seemed to be cut 
off from them completely. I had no pangs of seasickness, 
either then or later, for which I suppose I should be 
thankful; but I did not give that matter a single thought, 
as far as I can remember. I suppose my mind was too 
thoroughly taken up with its own wretchedness to worry 
about a possible wretchedness of body. And a full reali- 
zation of my wretched and miserable state came upon me 
the instant I was fully awake, with a distinct stab at my 
heart. A few tears trickled from my eyes, and my heart 
was like lead until I stepped out upon deck and saw 
the sun and a quiet sea, misty about the horizon, and the 
bark making her way through it under easy sail, rolling 
a very little, lazily, and the men, barefooted, scrubbing 
the decks as clean as might be of their coating of oil with 
the water standing upon it in little separate drops, like 
dew. I know the deck had a queer, greasy, frosty look, 
and fairly large drops had gathered and stood up, little 
smooth hills, about two or three inches apart. The water 
from the hose and the men with their swabs made these 
hills disappear like magic, together with the frosty look 
of the deck. Tarpaulins in irregular heaps still covered 
piles of stuff here and there on the deck, which the men 
avoided as well as they could. 


One of the men swabbing the deck was my old friend 
the old navy man, whose name I found was Peter Bottom. 
The two very black men with gold hoops in their ears 
were there too, the tall one as silent and dignified as ever, 
but working well, and the shorter one gay and garrulous, 
but seldom evoking from the other as much as a smile. 
What these men's real names were I never knew, and it 
does not matter what they were. The tall one always went 
by the name of Tony, and the shorter one by the name of 

Peter Bottom looked up at me, and smiled and winked, 
and worked nearer with his swab. There was a quar- 
terdeck on the old Clearchus, and a break in the deck 
with one low step up to the part covered by the after 
house. I was standing on that step and leaning against 
the house, for I did not want to get into the water that 
was flowing so freely. When Peter had worked near 
enough, he told me in low tones that if I would hunt him 
up later he would impart some information that might be 
useful and the beginning of my education. 

The men were busy nearly all day getting the decks 
reasonably clear, and the stuff stowed below, and it was 
not until late in the afternoon that I found Peter Bot- 
tom standing by the windlass, gazing out to the eastward. 
The wind was light, as it had been all day, and it looked 
very quiet and peaceful out there, with a grayish haze all 
along the horizon. The water toward the west, on the 
weather side, was too bright to look at with comfort. 
There was still a very slight heave of the sea left from 
the night before. Many of the crew were standing about, 
or sitting on the forecastle, but they were not saying much. 

Peter looked up as I approached. He had a sort of 
permanent smile on his face, a pleasant, humorous ex- 
pression of perpetual amusement. This deepened to a per- 
sonal smile when he saw me. 

*' Here you are, my lad," he said. " I was just thinking 


about you, and that I 'd have to go after you if I could 
contrive a way. Now to begin at the beginning, what 
might your name be ? " 

"Tim," I answered; "Tim Taycox." 

" A good name," he said. " I had a shipmate named 
Tim once, but he did no credit to the name. My name 's 
Peter Bottom." That was how I found out his name, al- 
though I have used it already. " A queer name, Bottom, 
but it 's none of my responsibility, my name. You '11 call 
me Peter, and so we '11 get rid of It. Now, tell me what 
you know about whaling, so I '11 know where to begin. 
There 's no sense in telling you what you know a'ready. 
And then you might tell what you know of ships and of 
sailing, for I s'pose you've knocked about some in small 
boats, living in New Bedford." 

Now, what I really knew about whaling was nothing at 
all, although I had always heard it talked about, and had 
absorbed as much in that way as a boy can who has seen 
nothing but the shore end of it. So I told Peter just that, 
and I told him of my experiences in boats. 

" What 's your lay ? " asked Peter Bottom suddenly. 

" My lay ? " I stammered. "I — I don't know." 

" Don't you know what I mean ? " he pursued. " Every 
man on board has a part o' the voyage — the catch — in- 
stead o' wages." 

I am afraid I interrupted him rather indignantly. Of 
course I knew that, but I had not the least idea what the 
share of each man was. He enlightened me. First he told 
me that the share of the boy was one two-hundredth. | 
That would give me, if our take of whales amounted to 
fifty thousand dollars, the princely sum of two hundred 
and fifty dollars for four years' work. That did not seem 
very much, but Peter comforted me by saying that Cap- 
tain Nelson was a good master, and had the reputation 
of making good voyages, and it was likely that I would 
get more than that. He told me that the owners took two 


thirds of the take for their share, and furnished the ves- 
sel and fitted her, and fed the crew throughout the voy- 
age, and made whatever advances were necessary. If the 
ship made a " broken voyage," as an unprofitable voyage 
was called, it might easily result in considerable loss to 
the owners, while the crew at least could not lose on it. 
Such unprofitable voyages were few, however. It was 
everything to get a lucky master. Captain Nelson had the 
reputation of being a very lucky master, and the Clear- 
chus had always been a fairly lucky ship. Peter had satis- 
fied himself on those points before signing, and he sup- 
posed that all the best men of the crew had been equally 
particular. It was easy to get a good crew for a ship and 
a captain known to be lucky, and often very hard to get 
any kind of a crew for a captain without that reputation. 

He told me further that Captain Nelson's lay was one 
tenth, which is the largest that was given to a captain; 
the mate's one twentieth, for our mate, Jehoram Baker, 
was also a good man. A first mate's lay ranges from one 
eighteenth to one twenty-fifth. Our second mate, Alonzo 
Wallet, was " nothin' to brag on," as Peter whispered, 
but he got the regular second mate's lay of one thirty- 
fourth. The third mate, John Brown, had a lay of one 
forty-fifth; the fourth and fifth mates got a little less 
than that; and the five boatsteerers got from one one- 
hundred-and-eighteenth to one one-hundred-and-fiftieth. 
Five mates may seem an excessive number. I know it 
seemed so to me, but the Clearchus was a five-boat ship, 
and needed five boatheaders. How Peter found out the 
amount of the captain's and the mates' lays I never knew ; 
possibly it was only gossip. Then he gave me the lays of 
the rest of the crew. 

The cooper got one sixty-third; the steward one nine- 
tieth; the cook one one-hundred-and-twentieth and half 
the slush ; what the slush was I did not know at the time, 
although anybody of any intelligence ought to have been 


able to guess that it was the refuse from the galley. I be- 
came familiar enough with slush before I got home again, 
and a bucket of slush will come nearer to turning my 
stomach than anything else. It consists chiefly of grease, 
often turned rancid. Many a bucket of it have I carried 
to the masthead, and have applied it generously and rap- 
idly to the mast all the way down, for I was always 
anxious to get that job done and to get rid of my slush 
bucket as soon as possible. 

But to come back to Peter Bottom and the lays. The 
lays of foremast hands varied according to their ability 
from one one-hundred-and-fiftieth to one two-hundredth, 
but Peter's own lay was one one-hundred-and -twenty- 
fifth. This was without doubt in recognition of his skill 
as a seaman, and his record. He was a better man than 
our second mate. He had sailed all the seas over and over, 
could navigate a vessel, and could easily have got a post 
in the cabin but that his long years as seaman had un- 
fitted him for the command of men, and he was too old 
to begin that now. But his ability was recognized — own- 
ers were always very ready to recognize ability — and he 
was greatly trusted by Captain Nelson and Mr. Baker, 
the mate. The second mate was not a great friend of 
Peter's. It is not to be supposed that Peter himself told 
me all this while we stood there by the windlass. He was 
a modest man, and he knew better than to brag about 
himself even if he had been inclined to. I did not add up 
the fractions — the lays — to see if they came out right. 
Probably they did not. 

Our crew consisted of twenty-five seamen, including 
the boat-steerers, ranging in ability from Peter down to 
the green hands, of whom there were eight at starting 
on that voyage; the captain and five mates; and the 
cooper, the sailmaker, who could act on a pinch as cooper 
and as carpenter, the steward, the cook, and the boy, who 
was myself; thirty-six all told, enough to man the five 


boats and to leave six on the ship to work her if neces- 
sary. The boat-steerers are included among the seamen, 
but their standing on the ship was more that of petty 

All this time the ship was slowly forging ahead in the 
light air, and rising and falling lazily, and the light of 
the late afternoon sun was making the water to wind- 
ward of a dazzling brightness, while I looked off to lee- 
ward over a quiet sea to the hazy horizon. There was not 
wind enough to keep the sails full, and now and then one 
fell against the mast and made a curious scraping sound 
until a puff of air drew it away again. 

Peter was beginning on the sails of the ship. Now, 
what I knew about a square-rigged vessel was even less 
than I had known about the matter of lays, and I was 
feeling ashamed of my ignorance and rather hopeless. 
But as I looked off at the water, I saw, about two or 
three miles off, a little feathery puff of vapor rise, like the 
drooping white ostrich plume on Ann McKim's hat. The 
feathery shaft of vapor rose lazily, and the sun shone on 
it and glorified it for a brief moment, and it drifted off 
slowly and vanished. And I watched it stupidly, and just 
as I came to and grasped Peter Bottom's arm, there 
floated down to us from aloft a melodious cry. 

" Bl-o-o-ows ! Bl-o-o-ows ! " 

It was most deliberately given, and was a quavering, 
musical cry, running up and down the scale, much like 
a yodel. It was one of the black men who gave it. These 
black men always gave the cry more melodiously than a 
white man. They had had a man aloft all the afternoon. 

That cry was music to me, and all the men were inter- 
ested, especially the green hands, to whom it was as 
strange as it was to me. 

Mr. Baker was waving his arms and beckoning, and 
the crews of the first and second mate's boats were run- 
ning, Peter Bottom among the best of them. The boats 


were still lashed at the davits, but it took only a fei 
seconds to loose them and to begin to lower, two or thret 
of the men in each boat beginning to overhaul the har- 
poons and lances and other gear. As soon as the boats 
struck the water, the falls were unhooked, and they 
pushed off from the side of the ship and lay there while 
the crew seemed to be busied with something on the 
thwarts, I could not see what, and the ship was slowly 
leaving them bobbing and drifting. I was just beginning 
to wonder about it when I saw that it was the mast and 
sail they were busy with. The second mate's boat stepped 
her mast and spread the sail, but in Mr. Baker's boat 
they abandoned that intention, and began rowing, while 
the ship kept off gradually on the same course as the 

By the time we had made our course Mr. Baker's boat 
was well ahead and going strong, the five long oars dip- 
ping slowly and with a fair regularity, but with some 
splashing from the green hands. It occurs to me to say 
something about a whaleboat for the benefit of those who 
do not know the boats, and they must be many, for the 
whaleboat, especially the boat fully equipped for chasing 
whales, has become a very unfamiliar sight. 

The whaleboat is sharp at both ends, and is built as 
lightly as is consistent with great strength. Its length is 
thirty feet; beam, six feet; depth at extreme ends, a trifle 
over three feet (thirty-seven inches in the boats of the 
Clearchus) ; depth amidships, twenty-two inches. It 
rides the seas like a cork, and the sense of buoyancy is 
surprising to any one who is not used to the boat. It has 
a centreboard, and is equipped with mast and sail, which 
can be set up when wanted. For the purpose of stepping 
the mast quickly, it has a sort of hinge to the thwart on 
the after side, and as it is raised, the foot slides down to 
the step in a guide, or channel, until the mast is erect, 
when the butt drops into the step. It is held in its place 


by stays, permanently fast to the mast near its head, 
above the hoist of the sail, one on each side, which are 
then made fast through eyes on the gunwales. 

When the boat is going under sail it is steered by a 
rudder. This rudder is always carried, when not in use, 
close under the gunwale at the stern, outside the boat, of 
course. It is held in place by two small lines permanently 
fast to it, one at the heel of the rudder, the other up 
nearer its head, the inboard ends of the lines passing 
through holes in the port gunwale to cleats on the little 
deck at the stern. The rudder is always hung before the 
boat is lowered, as it would be a difficult matter to hang 
it in a seaway, and might consume much precious time. 
When fast to a whale, the mate hauls in on the upper line, 
unshipping the rudder, and makes the line fast to the 
starboard cleat; then he hauls in on the lower line, rais- 
ing the heel of the rudder to the gunwale, and makes fast 
to the port cleat. This operation can be performed with 
a few turns of the hand, but many mates preferred the 
steering oar, which is twenty-two feet long, to the rud- 
der, when at close quarters. A couple of sweeps with this 
great oar will usually lay the boat around, but with the 
rudder it is not easy. A whaleboat, because of its length 
and the comparative flatness of its keel, and the slight 
purchase of the rudder, will not come about easily under 

When going upon a whale, a boat always goes, if 
possible, under sail. This is not for the purpose of saving 
the men trouble, although you would think that a praise- 
worthy purpose. It is to avoid frightening the whale, 
which hears the sound of oars at considerable distance, 
the sound undoubtedly going through the water. When 
the sail cannot be used, oars are used, or paddles. The 
paddles are used only when it is necessary to go very 
quietly, and there is no wind. They are usually stout and 
heavy, about four feet long; and when not in use are 


stuck along the sides, near the thwarts, and out of the 

Oars are the normal method of propulsion. There are 
five long oars, three to starboard and two to port. From 
bow to stern, they are called harpooner's (generally called 
" harpoonier " on a whaler), bow, midship, tub, and after 
oar. The harpooner's and the after oar are fourteen feet 
long, and the midship oar eighteen feet. Those three are 
the starboard oars. The port oars, the bow and the tub, 
are sixteen feet each. Under the tub oar, by the way, 
seems to be the favorite place for a whale to strike a 
boat. By this inequality in length of the oars a pretty 
good balance is reached, whether the harpooner is row- 
ing or not. Each of these long, heavy oars is- handled by 
one man, who sits far over on the thwart on the opposite 
end from the thole-pins or rowlocks. When thole-pins are 
used the oar works on a mat laid up of small line, placed 
between the pins, to muffle the sound ; rowlocks are matted 
with marline or other small stuff. 

The steering oar, as I have mentioned, is twenty-two 
feet long. It passes out astern over the gunwale on the 
port side of the stern-post, through a bight of rope cov- 
ered with leather, which rests on a bracket. One end of 
the rope forming this bight is taken inboard through an 
eye, and belayed on a cleat on the deck at the stern. 
There is a projecting handle on the upper side of the 
steering oar, and the steersman stands up to his work. 
When the steering oar is not in use, it is drawn in clear 
of the water, and on the boats of the Clearchus, at any 
rate, the handle was held in an eye spliced into a rope, 
which was worked in above the gunwale on the port side. 
This just fitted the handle, and held the oar out of every- 
body's way and ready for instant use. 

The boat is decked over for three feet at the bow, and 
four feet at the stern. The deck at the bow is sunk six 
inches below the gunwale, and is called the "box." Di- 


rectly aft of the box is the cleat, or " clumsy cleat." This 
is a wide, heavy plank, on a level with the gunwale, in 
which — on the port side, unless made especially for a 
left-handed man — a roughly semicircular piece is cut 
out, into the place of which will fit a man's left thigh, or 
upper leg. The edges of this hole are thickly matted with 
yarn or other soft stuff. Into this opening the harpooner 
fits his left thigh to steady him when he is about to dart 
the harpoon, or the mate fits his when he is about to use 
the lance. Various sheaths are on the forward edge of the 
cleat, for knives, and along its top runs a loose piece of 
heavy line, its ends knotted underneath at opposite ends 
of the cleat. This is the " kicking-strap," under which 
the whale line passes. There is a hatchet in a frame on the 
side of the boat below the cleat, where the mate can reach 
it easily, to cut the line; and a whaling-gun lies on a 
board under the cleat, at his right, fast to the boat by a 
line through its stock. 

The deck at the stern is used for the cleats which I 
have mentioned, for the lines from the rudder and the 
steering oar, and under it is the cuddy or locker in which 
are carried the breaker of water and the lantern-keg and 
the compass and other small things with which a whale- 
boat is usually equipped. The lantern-keg contains biscuit 
— hardtack — candles, flint and steel, or matches, pipes 
and tobacco; all the necessaries of life. The main pur- 
pose of this after deck, however, is to provide a con- 
venient place for the loggerhead. 

The loggerhead is a miniature mooring-pile projecting 
from this deck on the starboard side, and continued down- 
ward through the cuddy into the keel. Its top is six 
inches in diameter, and it is eight inches high. The whale 
line passes around it on its way out, and one or more 
turns can be taken around it, so that the line can be 
snubbed as much as is wished, or can be held there. It is 
a frequent occurrence for the loggerhead to get so hot 


from the friction of the line that it smokes, and is only 
prevented from bursting into flame by throwing water 
upon the line by the bucketful or the hatful. 

Whale line is a beautiful silky rope, usually seven 
eighths of an inch in diameter, although I have seen 
whale line that I thought was larger than this, perhaps 
one-inch rope. Old line, however, may change its diam- 
eter, becoming either larger or smaller than when new. 
It is of long fibre manila, flexible and soft, the best rope 
that can be made. In 1 872 it may have been of hemp — I 
do not remember distinctly. It is made in a rope-walk, 
not on machines, and its length is therefore limited to the 
length of the walk in which it is made. The line has a 
longer lay than machine-made rope, is not so tightly laid 
up, which may make it less attractive in appearance to one 
who does not know its qualities, but not to a whaleman. 
I have a passion for whale line. There is an old piece 
somewhere among my dunnage now — about three fath- 
oms of it. I have had it for years. I have no use for it, 
but I like to handle it — almost fondle it. 

The whale line, without knots or splices, is kept in 
tubs, usually one for a length, sometimes two, near the 
stern. The tub oar gets its name from this. It is most care- 
fully coiled, so that it shall run out freely, without kinks. 
A second length of line, coiled in its tubs, is carried by 
each whaleboat, and can be bent on to the first in case of 

From the tubs, then, the line passes around the logger- 
head, where the boatsteerer handles it, and snubs it as 
much as he wishes. It may be running out so fast as to 
burn his hands; and a swiftly running line not only 
burns the hands, but can take the very flesh off the bones, 
as I know to my sorrow. To guard against this, hand- 
cloths or " nippers " are provided, much like those worn 
by bricklayers, and often forgotten. The " nipper " is a 
patch of canvas, eight inches square, to be held in the 


hand without fastening, as it might take a man overboard 
if fast to him. From the loggerhead the line passes for- 
ward along the length of the boat, in its middle line, lying, 
when slack, on the looms of the oars. As each man sits 
well over to one side of his thwart, the middle line of the 
boat is left clear for it. It then passes under the kicking 
strap, and through a groove — the " chocks " — in the 
head of the stem, in which it is held by a small wooden 
peg or pin. This pin is purposely small and frail so that 
if there is any obstruction, such as a kink in the line, the 
pin will break instead of carrying the boat under. In the 
bottom of the chocks there is a small metal roller which 
does not always work. 

The whale line, after passing out of the boat through 
the chocks, is taken in again, and a considerable length 
of it coiled up on the box — the little sunken deck at the 
bow. This is called the " box line." The first harpoon is 
attached to the free end of the box line, the second iron 
to an extra piece of line, the " short warp," fast to the 
box line a little way from its free end. These two har- 
poons rest with their points projecting over the bow and 
their sapling hardwood handles in the crotch. The crotch 
is a sort of double Y-shaped contraption, which is set into 
a socket in the starboard gunwale, and projects about six- 
teen inches above it. 

The boatsteerer or harpooner rows the oar nearest 
the bow. When near enough to the whale, at the com- 
mand, " Stand up, Jack," or " Stand up, you ! " from 
the mate or boatheader, he takes in and secures his oar, 
turns around, stands up, takes the first harpoon, which is 
immediately ready to his hand in the crotch, fits his leg 
firmly in the opening in the cleat, and makes ready to 
dart. At the further command from the boatheader, 
" Give it to him ! " he darts the harpoon with all the force 
left in him after rowing for miles, perhaps with all his 
strength. The harpoon is heavy, and both hands are used 


in throwing it, the right hand around the upper part of 
the wooden handle or haft, and giving it its forward im- 
petus, and the left hand supporting the haft toward its 
lower end. Then, as quickly as he can, he grabs the sec- 
ond harpoon from its rest yi the crotch, and darts that. 
This is in the hope of getting two irons fast, but the sec- 
ond harpoon must be thrown out of the boat in any case. 

Lances and spare harpoons are stowed between the 
thwarts and the gunwale, the iron shanks held in a little 
brass frame — at least, on the boats of the Clearchus — 
with a sliding wire to lock them in, and the wooden hafts 
held in mafline. Lances are to starboard, and harpoons 
to port; and on each, whether lance or harpoon, is a 
wooden sheath covering the sharp edge. It is one of the 
duties of the bow oar to remove the sheath, and to get 
out the lance. He has certain other duties which are im- 
portant, and which make the bow oar next in line of pro- 
motion to the harpooner or boatsteerer. 

When fast to the whale, the boatsteerer makes his way 
aft, and takes the steering oar, changing places with the 
boatheader, who is usually one of the mates, while the 
mate takes his position in the bow, a lance in his hand, 
ready to lance the whale and finish the business. 

A harpoon or a lance is a poor bedfellow in a seaway, 
for they are kept very sharp. In fact, they are often a 
source of danger even when out of the boat. The second 
harpoon has to be thrown out of the boat in any case, 
whether there is a chance of getting it into the whale or 
not, for it is fast to the whale line, and if it were not 
thrown out there would be trouble. This second iron, when 
not in the whale, where it belongs, goes jumping and skit- 
tering over the waves after the fleeing whale, ahead of the 
boat or even abreast of it when the boat is hauled up 
close, or afoul of it. 

The placing of the loggerhead at the stern accom- 
plishes three things: it gives the boat-steerer easy control 


of the line, which the mate, in the bow, would have no 
time to attend to when they were at close quarters; inci- 
dentally it avoids the possibility of pulling the boat to 
pieces by a towing whale in which the harpoon is fast; 
but the controlling reason for it is that the men can 
heave on the line without leaving their places, which they 
must be able to do to get the boat up to the whale, so that 
the mate can lance. 

But to come back to the boats, which had been making 
progress according to the natures of the men in charge 
of them. They were no nearer than they had been at first, 
and we drifted on, Mr. Wallet's boat just abeam of us. 
The farther we went, the farther we were behind the 
whales, which were wandering directly away from us. The 
sun was near setting, and after an hour of a losing chase, 
signals were made for the boats to come aboard again. 

I cast another look about the horizon, and ran aft. 
There was nothing to be seen of whales — from the deck, 
at any rate — only a beautiful pearl-gray softness on the 
water. My dreams that night were a queer mixture of 
whales and home, and of my father working on a staging 
beside a whale in a dock, and removing several of hit 


We reached the Gulf Stream some time during that night. 
I remember that I was awakened before dawn by the 
heeling of the ship so that I was all but pitched out of 
my bunk. I sat up and held on, and heard the rain, and 
the sound of feet on deck, and orders shouted, and the 
hoarse singsong of the crew as they manned the sheets 
and the halliards and the braces, and the noise of the 
yards swinging, and the sails slatting. There was no sing- 
song from the men aloft taking in sail. The ship was 
pitching and rolling badly. The old Clearchus was good 
at that. Then Captain Nelson went on deck, and I 
dressed hastily, and went out too into the pitchy black- 
ness of a stormy night at sea. 

The two men at the wheel were having a hard time of 
it. I took my stand by the weather corner of the after 
house, hugging it close, to keep out of the rain, and looked 
out at the wet deck, which gleamed faintly now and then, 
and at the shadowy forms of the men who happened to 
pass near me, and at the white tops of the seas rolling 
past. The foam seemed to shine with a light of its own. 
Then the ship gave a more violent plunge than ever, and 
I could tell by the sound that she had shipped a sea over 
the bows, although I could see nothing; but as she rose I 
heard it come rushing aft, and the next moment the 
water was swirling in the near scupper, and slopped up 
against the leeward wall of the house. I stood there for 
some time, until long after they had sail reduced to reefed 
topsails, and my feelings were a curious mixture of exul- 
tation in the wildness of the night and — I may as well 
confess it now, although nothing could have drawn such 
a confession from me then — a sneaking fear that the ship 


would not stand such buffeting. I thought of home, and 
knew very well that my mother was lying awake and lis- 
tening to the wind and the rain, and thinking of me. And I 
knew that I was in my father's thoughts too, although 
those thoughts could not keep him awake. He knew that 
I was taking but the ordinary risks that every rightly 
constituted boy has to take, and goes to meet gladly. In- 
deed the risk was not great. It did not seem possible that 
I had left home less than two days before, and that it was 
such a few miles behind me. My thoughts being in that di- 
rection, I decided to keep a journal of some sort, and 
send it home when a chance offered. The chance may be a 
brief one, merely a passing ship, when there is no time 
to write letters. 

I suppose I must have made up my mind that if I was 
to be drowned I should be drowned, and I might as well 
be comfortable about it, for as it was beginning to be 
gray in the east, with the melancholy waste of wild waters 
just visible, and that sinking of the soul which always 
comes at such a time, I went below and turned in again 
and went to sleep immediately. 

The next day there was a stiff breeze from the south- 
west, which continued for several days. If the Clearchus 
had been at all fast, or even an average sailer, she would 
have made the Hatteras grounds in a couple of days ; but 
that was a big " if," as my father would have said with his 
quiet smile. Captain Nelson, knowing her well, made no 
attempt to crowd her, but went on under easy sail, so that 
we were a long time in getting to Hatteras. We got there 
toward the latter part of an afternoon. Cape Hatteras, of 
course, was not in sight, nor even the lightship on Dia- 
mond Shoals ; but there was one vessel in sight. I tried to 
make myself believe that I knew it for the Desdemona or 
the Palmetto, but Captain Nelson said that neither of 
those ships was there. However, he announced his inten- 
tion of going aboard of her, and said he would take me if 
I wanted to go. 


I was delighted, and regarded it as a mark of special 
favor. It was. Captain Nelson was continually showing 
me those marks of favor, although if I had not behaved 
myself he would have stopped very soon. But I cannot 
remember that it ever oocurred to me to do otherwise, 
and if I failed in any respect it was not by intention. 
Captain Nelson was very easy on those of good inten- 
tions, if they were not fools, and inclined to be indulgent 
toward harmless mischief, but very hard on malice or 
slacking, and showed them no mercy. Like many another 
man of action and results he had little patience with a 
fool. I think he blamed himself for this, and regarded it 
as a weakness, although he never said anything to me 
about it. I sympathize with him. All my life I have never 
been able to abide a fool, and there are many kinds; and 
I have been aware that it is a fault of character, and that 
I should have patience with them, for they cannot help 
their condition. But I have never been without faults, 
thank God, although I suppose that I was a good boy, on 
the whole. And I suppose that I should be ashamed of 
that, too, but I am not, and I never was. I do not believe 
that I ever thought about it. 

Captain Nelson was going over for a "gam." Now a 
gam is nothing more nor less than a gossip: each gives 
the other what news he has, the gossip of home from the 
outbound captain, and from the inbound the gossip of 
whales and their ways, and news of whalers and captains 
that he has met, the number of barrels of oil that the 
George and Susan has taken, the accident to the Addison, 
the men that the Gosnold lost by a fighting whale on the 
Carroll grounds, and any other items of interest that he 
can remember. The two captains, before they get through, 
may be telling anecdotes of other whalemen or of whales, 
or they may be talking of home or of Nantucket and Old 
Ma'am Hackett's garden. They may have something hot 
and glasses between them, and the gam may last an hour 

... THE GAM 45 

or three hours or all day. It all depends upon the men. 
Two captains have been known to spend all day gam- 
ming, and to turn up again in the morning for more of it, 
but such an abuse of the practice is very rare. The gam 
has its useful purpose as well as its pleasant one — al- 
though any pleasant purpose is useful. The outbound cap- 
tain gets the most out of it, the news of ships and of men, 
but most of all, the news of whales, and how they are 
running that season, and where they are to be met in 
plenty; much more recent news than he had when he 
sailed. But any really vital news likely to be of benefit 
to himself — a new whaling ground discovered, for in- 
stance, hitherto unknown, in which whales are plentiful 
— he carefully keeps to himself. The crew are not so 
careful, although many of them are close-mouthed. 

The vessel had been cutting in, as Captain Nelson 
could tell without his glass, and as Peter Bottom and 
every other old hand could tell. I could not see what they 
were doing, and I have no reason to think that any of the 
green hands could. She was more than three miles away, 
and there was a light bluish haze which made it difficult 
to see clearly, but I got a pair of battered field glasses 
from the rack, and managed to make out dimly the out- 
line of some sort of a flimsy structure on her side, the 
crew all crowded up by the windlass, and something 
bulky being hoisted in over the gangway. Captain Nelson 
had given me the use of those old field glasses, as no- 
body else wanted them. I would have carried them about 
with me, for I felt very proud and important at having 
glasses of my own ; but it would have taken a dray or an 
ice wagon at least to carry them. 

A boat was lowered, Peter Bottom being in the crew of 
the boat, and set off with the captain standing just in 
front of the steersman, his head in constant danger from 
the handle of the long steering oar, and his stomach from 
the shaft of the stern oar as it swung. He had to stand, for 


there was no seat for him. Whaleboats are not designed 
for carrying passengers. But he kept his feet and his dig- 
nity at the same time, and I felt a great admiration for 
the way in which he didjboth. I was perched up in the 
bow, in the harpooner's place, and found the thigh-hole in 
the clumsy cleat a great convenience in keeping my own 
balance and dignity. Then I gazed ahead over the little 
sunken deck — the " box " — with its length of whale 
line ready coiled upon it, and imagined myself striking a 
whale; and I raised my arms in the attitude of a har- 
pooner darting the harpoon, and I hurled the imaginary 
weapon with tremendous force — all imaginary, of course 
■ — and it sunk to the haft in the great body ; and I heard 
a snicker, and looked around, and there was one of the 
mates — I think it must have been Mr. Wallet, although 
it was not his boat — grinning at me from his place at the 
steering oar, and Captain Nelson was smiling. I had al- 
ready developed a cordial detestation of Mr. Wallet. I 
remember to this day how red and uncomfortable I got, 
even to the back of my neck. But I turned about at once, 
and stood as stiff as a ramrod with the help of the thigh- 
hole, and I looked ahead and I saw a great volume of 
black smoke rising from the try-works. Astern of her 
there was something in the water, with an immense flock 
of screaming gulls continually rising and settling again 
like a fountain. It looked much like the sight I have often 
seen up to a few years ago, off T wharf in Boston, the 
fishermen packed three deep about the wharf and all the 
men busy either unloading and weighing their fares of 
fish, or baiting trawls, and patches of scraps and gurry on 
the water, and crowds of great gray or black-and-white 
herring gulls screaming and dipping and elbowing for 
their share of the vile stuff. 

We were getting near enough for me to see things 
clearly. The vessel's starboard side was toward us, and 
there hung the cutting-stage by the gangway. Strangely 


enough, perhaps, I had never before seen a cutting-stage. 
When a ship is in port they are not in evidence, and we 
had had no occasion yet to rig ours. It is a simple affair 
of three planks, the two shorter ones butted against the 
side of the ship and resting on the wales. The two short 
planks keep the outer plank, which is longer, at the 
proper distance from the side. The planks are bolted to- 
gether at the outer corners, and are held up by ropes 
running from the outer corners to the main rigging at one 
end, and at the other to a post rising above the rail of 
the ship. Most of the work is done from the long -outer 
plank, which has bolted on its inner edge posts of iron 
supporting a light railing. It is somewhat of a mystery 
why the men do not fall off of those few inches of slip- 
pery, rocking plank, with nothing at their backs but the 
wide ocean. They are supposed to have monkey-ropes 
about their waists — usually forgotten — or a line at 
their backs along the cutting-stage, and they have 
long, heavy spades in their hands, which seem to anchor 
them. Sometimes they do fall off among the sharks, but 
they rarely come to any harm. But at the time it looked 
to me like a very insecure footing, and I was sure any 
house-painter would have rejected it with scorn. 

The ship turned out to be the Palm, of New Bedford, 
and the captain was an old friend of Captain Nelson's. 
The two stood apart, aft, for some time, watching the 
busy men about the try-pots. The men were stripped to 
the waist, most of them, and laughing and talking among 
themselves like children. Some were passing pieces of 
blubber from the hatch to the mincers; some were minc- 
ing the blubber on those pieces with heavy knives much 
like a butcher's cleaver with a handle at each end ; some 
were carrying the minced pieces to the try-pots; and 
some were stirring the mess in the pots or feeding the 
fire, with long, two-pronged iron forks in their hands. 
The black smoke billowed up over their heads, and cop~ 



per gleamed red in the rays of the low western sun, and 
the half-naked bodies wet with sweat gleamed red, and 
there was a reddish tinge* to the black smoke. It looked 
like an orgy of devils about the pots, and when the men 
came out from behind the try-works I almost expected to 
see their forked tails hanging down, and cloven feet. 

The two captains went into the cabin, and there was 
nothing for the rest of us to do, for the crew of the Palm 
were too thoroughly occupied to give us much of a wel- 
come. Everything was covered with oil and with huge 
pieces of what looked like butcher's meat, besides the 
blubber. Whale-meat is red, much the color of beef, only 
darker, although it does not look like beef. We have re- 
cently been asked to eat it, as if that were a new idea. 
And the newspapers have had their short articles, or 
perhaps a column, carefully timed, telling us how good 
it is, and that it is getting to be quite the fashion at New 
York hotels, and that some firm in Oregon has been asked 
to put up a million or two cans of it. I even saw some 
displayed in the window of a fish market for two or three 
weeks; the same pieces, I judged, from their continually 
ripening color. It did not seem to be in any great demand. 
Whalemen have eaten whale-meat for a century or more. 
It is the meat of the right whale that is eaten. Sperm 
whale meat is full of oil and not edible. Once is usually 
enough for a man, a steak cut from the small. Even right 
whale meat does not seem to be a favorite article of diet, 
although porpoise steaks are good, and porpoises are 

At the time I knew nothing of the palatability of whale- 
meat, and I was interested only in the trying-out process. 
I stepped carelessly nearer, and my foot slipped on the 
oily deck, and I should have gone down if it had not been 
for a strong arm that caught me about the body; and I 
found myself gazing into the smiling face of Peter Bot- 
tom, and at an enormous raw and bloody jaw that was 


just behind him in the scuppers. It was more than fif- 
teen feet long — the jaw, not Peter's face — and it was 
armed with backward curved teeth, not close together, 
but spaced rather widely; several inches between the 
teeth. They did not look so very formidable; not nearly 
so wicked as a shark's, and the whale's upper jaw has no 
teeth. But whale's teeth were no new thing to me, al- 
though I had never seen a jaw freshly cut off, with the 
ragged and bloody flesh on it. 

" What are they going to do with it, Peter ? " I asked, 
too much interested in the jaw to thank him for catch- 
ing me. " Will they try it out? Is there oil in it? " 

" Oil in what ? " said Peter, looking about. " There 's 
oil in near everything around here. There 'd have been 
oil in your clothes and in your hair if I had n't been here 
to catch you. Oh, it 's the jaw you mean. There 's no oil 
to speak of in it, but there 's teeth. When they get eased 
up on the oil, they '11 pull the teeth with the help of spades 
and a tackle. There 's fine dentists among the crew, I 'm 
thinking. And maybe they '11 cut up the j awbone, for it 's 
hard and fine, and good for scrimshawing; anything 
that 's too big for a tooth to answer for. I '11 show you, 
Timmie, when we get some whales of our own." 

" What will you carve, Peter ? " 

"What will we carve? Anything you want, lad, from 
an ivory spoon or a jagging- wheel, for your mother to 
mark pies with, to a model of the Clearchus, exact in every 
line and rope, and all made of ivory and silk. I brought 
me some silk thread for just that. Or we might make a 
swift, to wind off the hanks of wool. One of the boat- 
steerers, last voyage, made one. It was a strange thing, 
full of joints, and could be pulled out large or pushed in 
small to fit, like a lazy tongs. It seemed to work fine, but 
there was no real beauty in it, just flat links and all; a 
very good machine, but no piece of work for an artist to 
turn out. Still, it don't need to be so plain. We could carve 


the links and the shaft and the pedestal with a mermaid of 
two and some dolphins and old Nepchune and his car, 
and tip off the links with a mermaid's head at the top and 
her tail at the bottom. Oh, yes, Timmie, it comes to me 
now that a real artist might do something even with the 
reel. We '11 make one if you like. Or we might make you 
a cane to use when you get back from this voyage a fine, 
big man, and go walking about the streets to turn the 
heads of the girls. Oh, there 's many a thing we can make, 
and — hello ! Ahoy, there ! " 

As Peter spoke I turned quickly toward the try-pots, 
for it was there he was looking. The oil in one of the pots 
was being dipped out into the copper cooling-tank, and 
the other pot was almost ready. Something had hap- 
pened to one of the men as he swung his dipper. The 
dipper is practically a pail of copper held in an iron ring 
at the end of an iron shaft about three feet long; and on 
the end of this shaft is a long sapling handle. I did not 
know, at the time, what had happened, but I found, after- 
wards, that the man had hit his elbow and the contents of 
his dipper had been emptied into the second pot. What I 
saw was a thin wreath of smoke rising from the pot, with 
a tremendous bubbling and commotion in it, and instantly 
the oil burst into flame, which licked the near-by wood- 
work and rigging, and sent out a great volume of black 

The orgy of devils about the pots became more of an 
orgy than ever, although the devils no longer laughed. In 
the weird light and the black smoke which, at times, 
rolled down and hid the whole thing from me, the devils 
ran to and fro, and there was a confusion of shoutings for 
perhaps a minute. Then I heard the mate's voice bellow- 
ing orders, and the other shouting grew less, but in place 
of it I heard the grunting of men struggling with some- 
thing heavy, or using every muscle in pulling. The whole 


thing seemed unreal to me, like a sketch of Dore's for a 
scene in Hell — although at that time I had never heard 
of Dore" — and I remember that I leaned back against 
the bulwarks and laughed to myself. Peter had left me, 
and I had moved clear of the jaw of the whale, but it 
never occurred to me to do anything to help. No doubt I 
should only have been cursed by the mate and by every- 
body else, for I should not have had the least idea what 
to do, and I did not even know the names of things. But 
it is nothing to my credit that I did not offer my blunder- 
ing help, for I simply did not think of it. 

At last the flame died away and there was but little 
smoke and that of a sickly grayish tinge, as if it were 
the ghost of what it had hoped to be. I saw the two cap- 
tains standing together, aft, watching silently, and Peter 
joined me again, very black and dirty. 

" A narrow squeak, Timmie," he said. " I thought the 
ship would catch afire in spite of us," 

" What was the matter, Peter ? " I asked. " What did 
it ? " 

He turned to me with his humorous smile. Peter Bot- 
tom always had an air of detachment in his way of look- 
ing at things which sometimes concerned him very nearly. 

" Does your mother never fry doughnuts," he said, " in 
deep fat ? " 

I nodded — and I had a sudden ltimp in my throat. 
My mother did that, and often; and her doughnuts were 
— but it was not of doughnuts I was thinking. 

" Well," Peter went on, " your mother would not have 
asked me that question. Does the fat never catch afire ? " 

I shook my head. " It never does when mother fries 
them. I tried it once, and it did. Was that the reason ? " 

" Just that," he said. And then our boat was ordered 
away, and Peter ran. 

The red sun was resting on the rim of the sea as we 


started back. From my place in the bow I watched it, and 
I lost myself. Our course was directly in the golden track 
that led to the sun, and* whales and the black smoke of 
blubber and oily decks had no place in my thoughts as I 
saw the sun sink into the sea. 


We stood away that night, going tinder very easy sail. 
We were in no hurry, and did not want to get far away, 
but Captain Nelson had a prejudice against whaling in 
too much company. I was out at daybreak, eager and ex- 
cited, and stayed out all day when my duties did not call 
me below. Much of the time I spent in the maintop, which 
I attained for the first time, my heart in my mouth as I 
crawled slowly and carefully up and out on the futtock 
shrouds. Nothing would have induced me to go through 
the lubber-hole. I had with me my battered old glass — a 
load of junk, but it was better than nothing — and I 
squatted there and watched for those drifting white 
plumes until my eyes ached and watered. Peter laughed 
at me once when I came down, but I went up again. 

We sighted no whales that first day, although we ex- 
pected to see them, and kept a sharp lookout; but the 
next day, having laid a course almost due south, and being 
then in about the latitude of Frying Pan Shoals, we raised 
some. I was in the maintop again, looking through my 
glass at the wrong place, of course. I should have done 
better without the glass. At the mastheads we had two 
Kanakas, one called the Admiral, I never could learn 
why. He had the most wonderful way of crying 
" Bl-o-ows ! " that I ever heard. The cry began on a very 
high and piercing falsetto, sank a little in pitch, quavered 
and trilled for a long time, then went up again like a 
bugle, and ended as clear as a bell. I wonder that it did 
not scare all the whales within four miles, but the whales 
seemed to like it. 

As I sat with my eyes glued to the glass I heard the 
Admiral's cry begin. It startled me, for I had never 


heard it before, and I almost dropped the glass. I got it 
through my head what it was long before the Admiral 
had finished. * 

" Oh, where ? " I cried. " Where are they ? " 

The Admiral paid no attention to me, of course, and 
the other Kanaka in his hoops took up the cry in the usual 
melodious fashion. Then I saw the white plumes for 
which I had been looking for a day and a half. They were 
directly to leeward, and about three miles off. I found 
them with the glass, and I remember that I was per- 
fectly entranced with watching them. I could not see 
the bodies of the whales at that distance, and not much 
more than the hump shows above water, anyway, when 
the whales are undisturbed; but the spouts arose, at in- 
tervals, in a leisurely sort of way, much like the occa- 
sional spurt of steam from the stack of a locomotive at 
rest at a station. The spout of the sperm whale does not 
go straight up, but forward at an angle. And as the 
spouts rose, they went more slowly yet, and they spread 
out and drifted slowly for a moment, perfect plumes, and 

It seemed to be a small pod of whales, I could not tell 
just how many, for no sooner did one come to the sur- 
face and blow, than another, having had his spoutings 
out, would up flukes and go down. No one could miss see- 
ing that, the great flukes high in air just before the whale 
sounded, and the cry from the masthead of " There go 
flukes ! " seemed wholly unnecessary. 

At that time I did not know very much about the hab- 
its of whales, or about anything else, for that matter, con- 
nected with the life I thought I had elected. Whales — 
sperm whales, for I always mean sperm whales when I 
say simply whales — when undisturbed pursue their 
regular round of activities in an extraordinarily orderly 
manner. They go below the surface to feed. Nobody 
knows how deep they go, but they go deep enough to 


find the squid on which they feed. Sounding whales fre- 
quently take half a mile of whale line almost straight 
down, sometimes more; and they often come up straight 
at the boat. There is no means of knowing whether they 
go habitually deeper than that, but the pressure upon their 
huge bodies at that depth is something enormous, and 
the changes of pressure in coming up at the rate they 
sometimes — often — do come up are very rapid. Deep- 
sea fish, pulled from that depth, are apt to be turned 
nearly inside out, because of their inability to regulate 
the pressure in their air-bladders quickly enough. I never 
knew what mechanism the whale uses, if he has any, to 
guard against the consequences of such rapid pressure 
changes, but he certainly does not use the air-bladder 
method. It makes very little difference what method he 
uses, or whether he has any other than his great strength, 
it works very well, and in a way perfectly satisfactory to 
the whale. 

Having sounded by the simple method of throwing his 
flukes in the air, and pointing his body straight down, he 
stays down for a time which is constant for the individual 
whale, so far as anybody has been able to observe, and 
surprisingly uniform for whales in general, taking into 
account age, size, and sex. The time is undoubtedly de- 
termined by the reserves of oxygenated blood he has been 
able to accumulate in some way or other — entirely ob- 
scure to me — to enable him to close his spiracles and 
hold his breath for an hour or more. For a full-grown 
bull whale will stay down for an hour or an hour and ten 
minutes, and when he comes up he breathes perhaps sev- 
enty times at intervals of about eleven seconds. When he 
has taken the usual number of breaths, which is known as 
" having his spoutings out," he ups flukes and goes down 
again. A female will stay down from thirty to forty min- 
utes, and young whales perhaps twenty to thirty, depend- 
ing upon their age and strength. 


Whales are not always feeding, of course, and when 
not so engaged, and when they are feeling lively, they 
may amuse themselves with play, much as other animals 
do. The play of a sportive whale is not of a kind that I 
ever cared to join in. They sometimes come up from the 
depths at great speed, and throw their bodies clean out 
of the water. This is called " breaching." Breaching may 
not be the play of a whale that is particularly sportive, 
but due to an effort to clear the body pf barnacles and 
crabs and such-like. And they sometimes raise their flukes 
high in air, and bring them down on the surface again, 
or " lobtail," t'le blow upon the surface of the water mak- 
ing a noise like a great gun that can be heard for a great 

They have other things which they do with their flukes, 
which seem to be endowed with a special sense of touch, 
like the fingers of a blind person. Indeed, as I think I 
have said, the sight of whales is very poor. The eyes of a 
whale are so placed in his head that there are consider- 
able angles in front and behind throughout which he 
could see nothing if he had the best of eyes; but it is 
more than that. His eyes do not seem to be of the best. 

I have never chanced to see any explanation of this 
which seemed reasonable, but one occurred to me after 
I had learned to swim, which I did a few years later. 
It is not possible for me to see outlines clearly under 
water, and I suppose that the same thing is true of any 
normal person. The reason is that the curvature of the 
surface of the eye is adapted to use in air. Water is, of 
course, more dense than air, optically as well as in other 
ways, and to see well in water the eye surfaces would 
have to be much more curved. In other words, the eye 
would have to be very near-sighted in air to have nor- 
mal sight under water. It is of some importance to the 
whale to have normal sight under water, although there 
again is the difficulty of nearly total absence of light 


at great depths. But I should expect to find the whale 
very near-sighted, and perhaps with an eye somewhat 
similar to that of nocturnal animals. I do not know 
whether anybody has ever observed that. I never have. 
It is somewhat difficult to make such observations. 

I have interrupted my narrative to say something 
about the habits of whales, for I hope that has made it 
evident how hard it was for a greenhorn like me to tell 
the number of whales in the pod from the number of 
spouts that I could identify at any one time. In fact, 
there were times when all had disappeared; but I stayed 
there, crouched on my hunkers just forward of the lub- 
ber-hole, with my back against the mast, and I watched 
those drifting plumes of vapor, and I was much excited 
and quite happy. 

The boats had been lowered, the harpooners overhaul- 
ing their irons as the boats were dropped into the water. 
I watched the four boats tossing in the sea astern of us 
while their crews were stepping the masts and setting the 
sails. Mr. Baker's boat got her sail set first, and stood 
away for the whales; then Mr. Brown, the third mate, 
who seemed to have his crew well in hand. Mr. Brown 
was a silent, uncommunicative man, but he knew his du- 
ties, and something more. Then came Mr. Tilton's boat, 
only a couple of seconds behind the third mate. Mr. Til- 
ton was fourth mate. Last of all came Mr. Wallet, fully 
a minute behind the others. I am afraid I snickered at 
that, but it was just what I had expected and hoped for. 
I hardly know why I had taken such a dislike to Mr. 
Wallet so early in the voyage, for he had not been un- 
pleasant to me in any way. It must have been because I 
thought him a poor stick. 

It was a pretty sight. The weather was perfect, a mod- 
erate westerly breeze, and bright sunshine sparkling on 
the water, with the four boats driving ahead before the 
wind and spreading out fanwise as they went, and the oc- 


casional feathery spouts in the distance. The boats looked 
like toy boats upon a painted ocean with tiny streaks of 
cotton wool foam at their bows. I was not very high above 
them, but the whole picture was spread out before my 
eyes. It would have been much better at the masthead. I 
looked aloft as I thought of that, with some vague idea of 
trying to get up there, and I saw the Admiral busy with 
a flag. It was a sort of dirt-colored banner, and he seemed 
to be trying experiments with it, hoisting it full up, then 
trying it at half-mast, then stretching it out at one side 
or at the other, or taking it in completely. He was sig- 
nalling to the boats the position of the whales, which he 
could see very well, while the men in the boats could see 
them only occasionally or not at all. When the boats got 
near enough the Admiral put his flag away. 

Meanwhile the ship was keeping off after the boats. 
They had been bracing the yards around slowly, for there 
were few men left on her besides the idlers, of whom I 
was one. Nobody saw me — nobody thought of me, very 
possibly — and I stayed crouched in the maintop and 
watched the boats. It did not occur to me that my duty 
lay on deck. Captain Nelson told me of it afterward. At 
the time the masthead man was the only man who caught 
sight of me. I caught him grinning at me several times, 
and wondered what he was grinning about. 

The boats, by this time, had got very near the place 
where I had last seen the spouts, but there were none to be 
seen now, and all boats except Mr. Wallet's had taken in 
their sails, and lay rocking and waiting for the whales to 
come up. Mr. Wallet was still a long way behind, for even 
the wind seemed to help all the others more than it did 
him. I had my glass to my eyes, and I saw a gentle com- 
motion in the water beyond Mr. Brown's boat, then an- 
other beyond Mr. Baker's, and almost instantly two 
spouts arose, very close to the boats, and the men took 
to their oars with a will. As the whales had just come up, 


and had had no chance to breathe more than once or twice, 
to say nothing of having their spoutings out, they could 
not go down again, or if they did, they could stay -down 
but a few minutes. This was just the condition the men 
had been waiting for, and they took full advantage of it. I 
could see Macy, the boatsteerer in Mr. Baker's boat, — 
the boatsteerer rows the bow oar, — take in his oar, face 
about toward the bow, and stand up. He fitted his thigh 
into the thigh-hole in the cleat, took the first harpoon from 
the crotch, and poised it in his two hands, leaning far 
forward. The chance that he was waiting for came in a 
few seconds, and he darted the harpoon with all his 
strength; instantly seized the second harpoon from the 
crotch, and threw that as the first one struck. 

I had hardly been able to see the whale, as there was 
but little of him out of water, and that little only an in- 
distinguishable dark mound; but immediately upon feel- 
ing the irons in him, he raised his flukes high in air, and 
brought them down upon the surface with a tremendous 
crash. They missed the boat, for the men had been back- 
ing water with all their might, but the miss was by a 
small margin, and the boat and the men in it were del- 
uged with water. Then the boatsteerer made his way aft, 
and took the steering oar, and Mr. Baker went forward 
and selected his lance. He had no chance to use it while 
they were in sight, however, for the whale set off for the 
horizon at great speed, " head out," the efforts of the 
powerful flukes making his whole body undulate, so that 
his head was alternately entirely buried in the sea, and 
almost completely exposed, the narrow under-jaw serv- 
ing as a cutwater. The last I saw of that boat, Macy, the 
boatsteerer, stood at the steering oar, keeping the boat 
straight behind the fleeing whale, while he tried to snub 
the whale line completely by taking more turns around 
the loggerhead. A thin wreath of blue smoke was rising 
from the loggerhead, and one of the men was throwing 


water by the hatful upon it. The boat was throwing a 
sheet of water on each side of her bow, almost like a 
stream from a fire hose. 

All this hardly took longer than it takes to tell it. 
Meanwhile Mr. Brown's boat had pulled hard for the sec- 
ond whale, a longer pul^than Mr. Baker's. They had got 
.almost within darting distance when Macy struck his 
| whale, and every man in Mr. Brown's boat heard the 
(thundering crash of the flukes on the water. 

Wright, the boatsteerer, was already taking in his oar 
when Mr. Brown gave him the word, for he knew what to 
expect. It is not strange that I was in the dark as to the 
reasons for their actions, but very naturally I thought it 
all right, although it did not seem possible to dart the 
heavy harpoon that distance. Of course I could not hear 
what Mr. Brown said, but Peter told me later, and ex- 
plained the actions of the whales according to his own 
notions — which may be right enough. At all events, they 
are the notions generally held by whalemen. 

Wright took in his oar hurriedly — too hurriedly — 
scrambled to his place in the bow, and grabbed a har- 
poon; but the whale had been losing no time either, and 
the boat had gained but a few feet on him when he 
started. He was going under without throwing his flukes 
into the air, and he gathered speed very quickly. Wright 
threw the harpoon with all the force left in him after his 
hard pull, but it was a good twenty-five foot dart to the 
whale, which was going as fast as the boat, and Wright 
had not the strength. The harpoon fell short and nicked 
the whale's flukes on an up stroke, serving only to in- 
crease his speed instantly, and he disappeared. 

I looked around, and could see no whales. There was 
Mr. Baker's boat well on its way to the Azores, with 
white water some distance ahead of it, marking the ac- 
tion of their whale's flukes as he ran. All the others had 
vanished, and the boats lay still on the surface of the 


sea in attitudes of dejection, the men seeming to be look- 
ing longingly after the fleeing whales. In a few minutes 
I heard a cry from the masthead, and saw what the men 
were looking for. There, miles away, was a lone spout, 
and then another, and a third; and they seemed hurried. 
The whales had been swimming under water. We should 
not get near those whales again, and the boats pulled 
slowly to the ship. 

What had happened, according to Peter, was this: 
Whales have some mysterious way of communicating with 
each other, although there may be miles of water between 
them. Peter did not undertake to say what the means of 
communication was. It may have been the blow of the 
flukes on the water when the whale was struck with the 
harpoon, although whales lobtail frequently without caus- 
ing alarm in their companions. Whatever the means, old 
whalemen maintain that, when a whale is struck, it com- 
municates that fact, in some way, to the others; and they 
become " gallied " — frightened — and make off at once. 
I had seen them do so, and how could I doubt it? Of 
course Peter did not tell me about it at that time. He and 
his boat, and all the men in it, were out of sight. 

I stirred myself when the boats were alongside, giving 
myself a shake, I remember, and waking from the trance 
I had been in. I do not know how I got down, but I must 
have thrown my legs over the edge of the crosstrees and 
found the ratlines on the futtock shrouds with my feet 
like any old hand, for I was concerned only with reaching 
the deck as soon as possible. 

Mr. Brown's crew were just coming over the side as my 
feet struck the deck. I rushed at Aziel Wright, the boat- 
steerer, and shot a fusillade of questions at him, for I was 
worried about Mr. Baker's boat and Peter. The boat and 
her crew seemed to me to be as good as lost, well out of 
sight beyond the rim of the sea, and going strong. Wright 
paid no attention to me until the boat was up to the davits 
and the wooden brackets swung out under her keel. 


When the boat was up and secure, Wright turned to 
me. He was a tall, lanky man, and he could not have been 
over thirty, although he seemed older. He had a little 
hacking cough, and seemed chronically tired; but he was 
pleasant, and already a good friend of mine. 

" What is it, Tim ? " h^e asked. " Mr. Baker's boat ? Oh, 
they 're all right. We 're running down after them now. 
We may sight them any time now, or it may be dark be- 
fore we find them." 

"But," I objected, "the whale was going faster than 
the ship. He 'd take them — " 

Wright laughed. " True enough. There 's no telling 
where he 'd take them if he kept it up, for he was making 
a good ten knots, and the ship is n't making more 'n five 
or six. But he can't keep it up a great while — twenty 
mile or so. We '11 sight them, it 's likely, in a few hours." 

" And will the whale fight when — " 

" When he stops running ? " Wright finished for me. 
" Can't say, but 't is n't likely, for he 11 be tired. But 
you never can tell what a whale '11 do." 

I was not wholly satisfied. " If we don't see them be- 
fore dark, how will we find them ? " 

" Flares," said Wright briefly. Then, seeing that I was 
mystified, he proceeded to explain. I suppose he thought 
that he made the matter as clear as daylight. " They '11 
burn flares now and then, and we '11 see one of 'em, 
maybe more, and we '11 run down and pick her up." 

I nodded, and thanked him. There was nothing else 
that I knew enough to ask him, although I was still un- 
satisfied, and I ran below to get it all down in my jour- 
nal. At the time I made mere notes, in a fragmentary way, 
while my impressions were fresh. I wrote up the notes 
later. I have that journal by me now. As I look over the 
scrawled and stained pages, and read the disjointed sen- 
tences, the whole thing comes back before me as if it had 
happened yesterday. I sent the journal home from time to 


time, as I had planned to do, as long as I had opportuni- 
ties, and managed to carry home the part covering the 
last part of my cruise. My father and my mother pre- 
served my old journal as if it were a precious thing. I 
found it nearly thirty years later with my father's most 
valuable papers. 


It was past eight bells when the boats came aboard — * 
eight bells being, in this*case, noon — and all hands had 
dinner. I hurried through my work of helping the stew- 
ard, and ran on deck. There was no sign of Mr. Baker 
or of anything else on that limitless sea. The whale had 
run to leeward, contrary to the custom of whales, which 
usually run to windward when they can. The ship was 
rolling along in her leisurely way, almost before the wind, 
and making a pleasant and soothing noise under her fore- 
foot and on either side as she rolled. Ordinarily I should 
have enjoyed her leisurely progress, and should have 
found some place which was out of sight from aft, per- 
haps on the heel of the bowsprit, on the principle that out 
of sight was out of mind. There I should have squatted, 
and gazed out ahead and fallen to dreaming, probably, 
until recalled to myself by a shout of " Tim ! Where 's 
that boy ? " But I was getting anxious about Mr. Baker's 
boat, and I could not understand the indifferent attitude 
of everybody on board. Nobody seemed to care whether 
he was ever found or not, although I could not see, when 
I came to think it over, what more could be done than 
was being done. The ship was going as fast as she could 
— nearly as fast. They could have got a little more sail 
on her. And the mastheads were manned. 

I went up forward, and stood between the knightheads 
for a while, but I was ashamed to ask anybody, and I gave 
it up, and went below to work on my journal. I could not 
keep my mind on it, however, and after half an hour or so 
I went on deck again. Mr. Wallet and Mr. Brown were 
walking to and fro, and Captain Nelson was standing by 
the starboard rail, not leaning, but swaying to the roll of 
the ship. I went and stood beside him, saying nothing. 


He paid no attention to me for a long time, and I edged 
closer. He glanced around then, with an expression of 

" Well," he said, " what 's the matter with you, Tim ? " 

" Nothing, sir," I stammered hesitatingly. " I was won- 
dering about Mr. Baker." 

" Huh ! " he said. " So was I. He 's all right, 1 guess. 
We 're edging down that way now. Worried ? " 

" Well — no, sir, not if you 're not." 

" Huh ! " he said again, under his breath. " Always 
worried, more or less, when a boat 's lost. But Mr. 
Baker 's pretty well able to take care of himself. Nothing 
to worry about." 

" No, sir, I suppose not, but I thought we 'd sight him 
before this. That whale must have taken him a long way." 

The captain only grunted in reply. I did not like to 
press the matter, and I had turned away, when he called 
me back. 

" Tim," he said, " you can take your glass to the fore- 
masthead, if you want to, and see if you can see any sign 
of him." 

There was a little crinkle of amusement about his eyes 
as he spoke. Evidently he thought that would be the last 
thing I wanted. It was. As I turned and looked up, I saw 
that the foremasthead meant the hoops. One man was al- 
ready there, the tall, silent black man, that we called 
Tony. I had but just got so that I could climb in and out 
of the maintop without having my heart in my throat; 
but I was not going to let anybody know how scared I 
was, if I could help it, and I was not going to funk any- 
thing that the captain — the old man, as I had come to 
call him to myself and to others of the crew — suggested 
for me to do, even if he did not order it. 

I turned back. " Yes, sir," I said in a small voice ; and 
I started. 

I was an active boy, and fairly strong for my age; and 


I did it somehow. I think I held my breath for the last 
stretch, and I know I was thoroughly scared until I got 
there, and Black Tony lent me a hand into the hoops. 

The ship was rolling more than I had thought. On deck 
the roll was scarcely noticeable, but at the foremasthead 
it was a different mattef. I found that I was being car- 
ried through an arc of fifteen or twenty feet, and at first 
I could do nothing but hold on to the hoop. Tony did not 
laugh or speak. He did not even grin, but watched me 
and waited, thereby earning my enduring gratitude. After 
a few minutes I found that I did not mind the motion so 
much, and I put my arms over the hoop, and took up my 
glass, but did not put it to my eyes. 

It was beautiful weather, the sun shining brightly and 
pleasantly warm, and a brisk breeze, under which the sea 
to leeward, as far as I could see, was deep indigo, with 
white caps here and there which flashed dazzlingly white 
in the sun. It seemed to me, I remember, that I could see 
almost around the world, although there was a curious 
saucer-like effect of the water near the ship. She seemed 
to be moving in the centre of a slight depression, a mile 
or so in diameter, and over that rim the sea curved away 
as it should. I was so taken up with the beauty and the 
breadth of view that I forgot what I had come there for, 
and I got to like the swing to and fro. It was as sooth- 
ing as a hammock, the gulls screamed about my head, and 
I got to dreaming. I have never got over my liking for a 
wide prospect, and with such a prospect unrolled before 
l me, I am, even now, as apt to get to dreaming as I ever 
was. I was too apt to do it then. 

Something far off upon those bobbing waves must 
have attracted the attention of my unseeing eyes, for I 
came out of my dreaming abruptly; but the thing had 
gone. Again I thought I saw it, but it was of the color of 
a sea in shadow. I put my glass to my eyes, and searched 
the sea. It must have been six or seven miles off, or more, 


and I could not find it, but I saw only a panorama of curi- 
ously bobbing waves going straight up and down. Then 
I happened upon it again for an instant, as it crossed the 
field of my glass, what looked like the bow of a boat just 
rising over a sea. I was still searching for it when I felt a 
thump on the bottom of the ship, and a strange shivering 
of the mast. It was over in a second, but I had dropped 
my glass. If it had not been tied around my neck it would 
have dropped to the deck below, and it might have killed 
a man. That old glass was almost heavy enough to go 
through the deck, dropped from the masthead. I found 
myself staring at Black Tony, while he stared at me. 
Then he looked directly down into the sea below him. 

What he saw there I did not know, but he gave a cry, 
and I felt rather than heard a sort of scraping along the 
keel, and the Clearchus almost stopped, and she began to 
careen. She careened more and more, and up there at the 
masthead it seemed as if she must capsize. I did not stop 
to think, but a panic seized me, and I slid and scrambled 
down the starboard rigging until I was in the foretop. 
There I stood and collected my scattered wits, and real- 
ized that, in my panic, I had come down, without a 
thought, over rigging that I had been very much afraid 
of. Although the topgallant shrouds have ratlines on them 
on all whalers and most merchantmen, they are pretty 
high up and seem none too secure to a boy on them for 
the first time. If it had not been for my momentary scare 
I might be up there yet. 

I was about to come down from the foretop with much 
dignity and a swelling of the chest, when I saw that all 
hands, including the officers, were looking intently into 
the water astern, and naturally my gaze followed theirs. 
The ship had recovered her equilibrium by this time, and 
was going serenely about her business; but, about half a 
cable's length in her wake, some huge, smooth body was 
slowly rising to the surface. At first I thought it was a 


whale which we had run into and over ; but as it continued 
to rise, I saw that it was too big for a whale. It broke the 
surface, exposing a smooth shape like a vessel's bilge, 
dark-colored and covered with weed, and continued to rise 
very slowly until the whole length was revealed, and I 
could even catch glimpses of the keel. It remained on the 
surface for half a minute, perhaps, then a sea heaved up 
the stern, and the hulk began to sink as slowly and ma- 
jestically as it had risen. It was the hull of some vessel, 
waterlogged and water-soaked so that it floated some 
feet below the surface of the sea, rising and falling, or 
perhaps remaining stationary below the influence of the 
waves. It must have been afloat for years to be so cov- 
ered with weed. I wondered where it had been when it 
met disaster; possibly on the coast of Africa, or in the 
Bay of Biscay, or even in some more remote seas; and 
how much longer would it be a plaything of ocean cur- 
rents ? 

Captain Nelson was standing under the after house, 
still gazing astern, when I went to report to him. Half 
a dozen men, including the sailmaker who performed the 
duties of carpenter, and the cooper, had been sent below 
to see whether the Clearchus had been damaged by the 
collision, but the old man did not seem worried. I asked 
him about it, no doubt a piece of impertinence on my 

He shook his head. " Did n't you see where we had run 
over her ? Did n't even scrape off the whole of the weed. 
Glancing blow." 

" What sort of a vessel was it, sir ? Do you think it was 
a whaler ? " 

He shook his head again. " Not a whaler. No copper 
on her bottom." Then he smiled suddenly, for he had seen 
the whole of my performance. " See anything up there ? " 

I told him that I thought I had seen a boat, but I could 
not be sure, there was so much mirage or something. 


*' Looked like a boat, did it ? " 

" Yes, sir. Like the bow of a boat.* I could n't see it very 
well. It was the color of the water, and it looked as if it 
was cut off, but I don't suppose it was. There was some- 
thing that looked like a flag or something." 

Captain Nelson smiled more broadly. " May have been 
a flag or something. How far off ? " 

" Eight miles, perhaps. I don't know." 

" Well, the lookout has n't reported it, and I 'm afraid 
you did n't see anything. I did n't know but you had seen 
a ghost, you came down so fast." 

" No, sir — "I began. Then I felt myself growing red, 
my face and my neck, even to my body and the roots of 
my hair, and I stammered and stopped. 

" Never mind. You got down quicker than you will 
again for a long time, and I was afraid you might have 
trouble. There was some excuse for you. I 've been scared, 

" Then, Captain Nelson, may I go up again ? " 

" Now ? What do you want to go up again now for ? 
Nothing to see up there. See if the steward does n't want 

We stood on to leeward for the rest of the day without 
sighting the boat. I was getting really worried about it. 
At sunset we shortened sail, as we did always on cruising 
grounds. The light sails were taken in, the topsail close- 
reefed, and the ship was brought close to the wind, lying 
to during the night, so as to stay as nearly as possible in 
one place. If we took any chances of overrunning the boat, 
there was some danger that it might be lost in earnest, 
while, if we kept to windward of it, there was little chance 
of that. I stayed on deck after supper as long as I could 
keep my eyes open, in the hope of seeing the flare which 
Wright had mentioned, but I saw none. By two bells — 
nine o'clock — I was so sleepy that I fell asleep halfway 
up the main rigging, and just caught myself as I was fall- 


ing. my arm hooked around the shrouds. Men sometimes 
fall sound asleep on* a yard, toward the end of a long 
watch, hanging on unconsciously by their shoulders and 
their legs, with an arm hooked around a stay. No officer 
will arouse a man in thig condition, for there is great dan- 
ger that he will fall overboard in his instinctive start at a 
command. I did not know of this at the time, but I was a 
little frightened at my narrow escape from a fall, and I 
went below and turned in at once. 

I fell asleep as soon as I touched my bunk, and slept 
until morning. I remembered very vaguely that there was 
some unusual noise over my head at some time during the 
night, and that afterward I heard a noise in the cabin, 
but I did not rouse enough to wonder at it. It was only in 
the morning that it seemed to have any significance, and 
as soon as I was really awake I got into my clothes hur- 
riedly and went on deck. There was Mr. Baker's boat on 
the davits, where she belonged, and there was Peter Bot- 
tom smiling at me, and there, alongside to starboard, was 
our first whale, floating on his side, with his flukes 
toward the bow, the water about him filled with sharks. 


The water actually boiled with sharks, feasting and fight- 
ing. There was a multitude of them, big fellows, from six 
to twelve feet long, and they took bites about the size of 
a football right out of the whale's side. It was hard to 
see how they could do it, with their projecting snouts, and 
I did not make it out very well with all my watching. A 
shark would glide directly at the whale, about a foot or 
two under the surface, there would be the flash of whitish 
belly as he turned over, and he would glide on under, or 
turn without stopping; but there was always the neat, 
round hole where he had scooped out his mouthful. Two 
of the biggest sharks repeatedly threw themselves up on 
the carcass, from which, of course, they slipped off imme- 
diately; but they always left smooth, round holes behind 

" And they take a good quart of oil at every mouth- 
ful," said Peter's voice at my elbow. I had been so intent 
on the sharks that I had not heard him come. " Those big 
fellows take more. Three of their bites would make a gal- 
lon of oil." 

I seized the chance to get from Peter the story of the 
capture of the whale. It was a short story in the telling, 
possibly because he saw that I was as much interested in 
the sharks as I was in the story; but I think Peter would 
have made no long story of it in any case. 

" 'T is soon told," he said. " He ran for four or five 
hours, twelve knots or more at first, then ten, and then 
less, but faster than the ship sails. A nice kind of a sleigh- 
ride, Timmie. We had a good deal of trouble heaving close 
to lance him, for he was cunning and knowing, and man- 
aged to keep out of the way. He turned fin out about sun- 


set, and we burned flares now and then while we pulled 
to windward. Raised the ship about four bells, but the 
sea was so high we had trouble getting the fluke-chain 
fast, and it was nearly midnight before we had the boat 
on the davits. Look at that, now ! Would n't it surprise 
you the life there is in a shark ? " 

He pointed to a shark whose bowels were protruding 
from a cut in its belly. The shark was so intent on feast-« 
ing while the feast was good that he paid no attention 
to an injury which, one would think, was disabling. The 
intestine gradually came out, and trailed in a long, wrig- 
gling line as he swam. Other sharks attacked and tore 
at it. 

For the sharks were not having it all their own way. 
The cutting-stage had been rigged and lowered, and 
George Hall and Miller, the boatsteerers for the second 
mate and the fifth mate, were stationed on it with sharp 
spades, and were doing what damage to the sharks they 
could. A shark has as many lives as a cat. An enormous 
shark came at great speed, and threw himself fairly upon 
the carcass of the whale. 

" Pin him through the nose ! " Peter shouted. " Pin 
him through the nose ! " 

I did not know what he was talking about, but Hall 
and Miller did. At the same instant they threw their 
spades with all their force. The aim was true, and while 
the shark was still wriggling on the whale both spades 
struck him on the projecting snout, pierced it and went 
through deep into the whale's body, pinning him there. 
The projecting snout of the shark is the one sensitive 
place in his whole body. The struggles of this shark were 
terrific. He thrashed the water with his tail, sending up 
sheets of spray which drenched Hall and Miller on the 
cutting-stage; then the sea receded, and his tail thrashed 
the bare blubber with noises like explosions. The crew 
quickly gathered at the rail, laughing at Hall and Miller, 


and at tha struggles of the shark. But his struggles were 
not fruitless, for they freed the spades from the body of 
the whale, and the shark slipped back into the sea. Here 
his struggles were more violent than ever, and the spades 
quickly drew out of his nose, and he made off. 

Both Hall and Miller had let go the handles of their 
spades in the surprise of the drenching, but there were 
light lines attaching them loosely to the railing of the 
cutting-stage. They now recovered them, and were pre- 
paring to resume the slaughter, when they were called 
in. Cutting-in was about to begin. Hall offered me his 
spade, and suggested that I see if I could not get a 
shark or two. I was very willing to try, as I would try 
anything. I did not make a success of it. I might have 
improved if I had had time to practise, but I was called 
in almost immediately. I did not become a really good 
shot with a spade until I had my growth and strength. 

Attached to the head of the mainmast — the top of the 
lower mast, where I had sat in the crosstrees — were two 
great tackles, just alike. The blocks in each of these " cut- 
ting-tackles," which are used to strip off and hoist in the 
blubber, are enormous and clumsy, reaching well above a 
man's knee as they rest on end on the deck. It is possible 
that they use wire rope now, and iron blocks, which would 
be lighter and less clumsy, but wire rope and iron blocks 
were not used, in my time, for any such purpose. The 
gangway, from which two men were taking out the re- 
movable section of bulwarks, is forward of the mainmast. 
As all the blubber is hoisted in at the gangway, it is de- 
sirable that the pull of the tackles shall be in line with the 
gangway. Each of the falls, therefore, ran through a 
loop or eye in a large cable running to the foremast; and 
by hauling in on this cable the tackle could be pulled for- 
ward to a point over the line of the gangway. 

As I came inboard I met the men carrying these heavy, 
clumsy blocks to the side, two men to each block, and 


staggering at that; and the artists who were to do the 
cutting were waiting for me to get off the stage. These 
artists were the mates, four of the five. The Clearchus 
was a five-boat ship, and had five mates to head her five 
boats. The fifth mate was named Snow, a little man, but 
of tremendous energy. Each of the four mates carried his 
spade, and as soon as they had reached their places on the 
stage the cutting-in began. 

The whaling-spade is perhaps the implement most used 
in whaling, and for a surprising variety of purposes, but 
its primary purpose is for cutting. Spades are made in 
many sizes and shapes, or the shape of a spade may be 
changed by continual sharpening, or to suit the individual 
taste of the user. The typical blade is usually about four 
inches wide and a foot or so in length, with straight sides, 
and, normally, a straight edge. It tapers in thickness from 
half an inch or more at the top of the blade to about an 
eighth of an inch on the line where grinding off for the 
edge begins; but in an old spade which has been much 
ground, this line is not definite or distinct, and such a 
spade is more like an old axe-head. Indeed, the spade is 
much like an axe designed to do its cutting by being 
pushed or thrown endwise instead of swung. Above the 
head of the spade is the socket for the handle, and the 
socket and the head are connected by a shank which may 
be several feet long, or may be reduced almost to nothing. 

When spades are used for the purpose for which they 
are intended, they must be kept very sharp, and the grind- 
stone is always in service on deck. A blow upon a bone 
destroys the edge of the spade, and mates are usually 
careful to avoid the bones; but the cutting-in is often 
done in a heaving sea, by a man on a single plank which 
may not heave in time with the body of the whale, and the 
spade is heavy, with a flexible sapling handle perhaps 
eighteen feet long, and he may not be able to see what 
he is cutting, three or four feet within the body of the 



whale; when the head is being cut off, for instance, or 
when cutting between the junk and the skull. Accidents 
will happen to the best of us. Then he throws his spade 
inboard, and roars for a sharp one. 

Strangely enough, Mr. Wallet was the most skilful 
cutter we had, and he put his heart into his work, and 
took great interest in doing it well and quickly. He kept 
the others on the jump to keep up with him, and nothing 
put him out more than to see that any other man did not 
have to hurry. He was not at all of that temper in any 
other work that he did. In fact, he was pretty nearly a 
flat failure as an officer, and I often wondered whether it 
was not his great skill with the spade that held his po- 

The order of the different operations in cutting-in is 
always necessarily about the same, but some slight varia- 
tion in them is fovnd in different ships, in accordance 
with the ideas of the men who do the cutting. It is usual 
to begin with cutting off the head at the same time that 
the blanket strip of blubber is unrolled. Mr. Wallet varied 
this practice by cutting out the tongue first, which, in the 
sperm whale, is moderately large, thick, and soft; then 
he cut off the jaw, and then severed the head from the 

Before any cutting was done, the whale was hauled for- 
ward until his eye was opposite the gangway. Then Mr. 
Wallet stepped proudly out on the cutting-stage, and 
fastened his monkey-rope loosely to the railing of the 
stage. The monkey-rope is about a man's waist, the other 
end fast to any convenient thing, or held by another man 
on the ship. Its purpose is to prevent a man's falling into 
the sea. After Mr. Wallet came Mr. Brown, who dis- 
dained the use of the monkey-rope, as did almost all of 
those for whose benefit it was intended.' Mr. Wallet and 
Mr. Brown were to be engaged in cutting the head, 
tongue and jaw. Mr. Tilton and Mr. Snow, the fifth mate, 


the little man of prodigious energy, then went on. Mr. 
Baker did no cutting on this whale, probably thinking 
that enough was enough. 

The body of a dead whale, as I have said, floats on its 
side, with one fin uppermost. Mr. Tilton and Mr. Snow 
went to work at once, cutting a hole clear through the 
blubber, just above the fin; in fact, this hole was so near 
the head that it was partly through the " white horse," 
which they call the extremely tough layer of integuments 
surrounding the eye and most of the head. They worked 
together, and the spades rose and fell in alternation, one 
driving his spade down on one side, then the other driving 
down his spade on the other side, as two axemen cut a 
scarf in a tree. Thus, at every stroke, there was a V- 
shaped piece cut out. The heavy spade is almost thrown 
at the place where the cut is to be made, with great accu- 
racy, and the scarf progresses with surprising speed. 

Meanwhile Mr. Wallet and Mr. Brown were busy, cut- 
ting out the tongue. Mr. Wallet found, for the first time 
in his career, I guessed, that he had a working partner 
whom he was unable to hurry. Mr. Brown matched stroke 
for stroke, however fast Mr. Wallet worked; and his 
strokes were delivered with as great accuracy as Mr. 
Wallet's, and with greater force. Remember that this was 
the first chance there had been on that voyage to match 
powers. I saw Mr. Wallet glance up with annoyance, and 
put on more speed. Mr. Brown met the increase in speed 
without turning a hair. Mr. Wallet nearly doubled his 
speed, and Mr. Brown again met it, driving his spade in 
with greater force than before. I had never, up to that 
time, seen a stamp mill, but I saw one at the Centennial, 
after my return from that voyage, and it reminded me so 
exactly of Mr. Wallet and Mr. Brown, cutting out that 
tongue, that I stood before it, and laughed aloud, much to 
the astonishment of the others who stood there. Both the 
men labored and sweated, but Mr. Wallet sweated more, 
while there was the flicker of a smile on Mr. Brown's lips. 


" Too fast for you ? " Mr. "Wallet asked. 

" Go as fast as you like," said Mr. Brown. 

It was a great waste of energy, and too much of a 
strain for Mr. Wallet, who was then delivering strokes of 
his spade at the rate of fifty or more a minute, while the 
greatest normal rate is twelve to fifteen. Mr. Tilton and 
Mr. Snow were almost convulsed with laughter, so that 
their blows fell to eight or less, and there was no strength 
in them. I heard a snicker from one of the crew, and I 
could not forbear a snicker of my own. Mr. Wallet may 
not have heard the snickers; he affected not to, but he 
lowered his rate at once to fifteen a minute. 

They finished the cut on that side of the tongue before 
Mr. Tilton and Mr. Snow had quite done cutting the hole; 
and, without a word, Mr. Wallet transferred his attention 
to the uppermost hinge of the lower jaw, probably rely- 
ing on his superior knowledge of the anatomy of the 
whale to enable him to get the better of Mr. Brown. Mr. 
Wallet's knowledge, in that respect — and in that respect 
alone, as far as I was ever able to see — was very exact 
and complete. Mr. Brown's, however, if not quite equal to 
Mr. Wallet's, was sufficient for the occasion, and they fin- 
ished their work like the artists they were, before the 
fourth and fifth mates had done that allotted to them. 

It was the duty of these men, when the hole was cut, 
to cut a semicircular scarf, or deep groove, above it, and 
to continue this scarf at each end of the semicircle, down 
past the hole, and past the side fin, making this scarf not 
perpendicular to the axis of the body, but slightly in- 
clined to it, like the thread of a screw. The rearmost 
scarf — that toward the whale's flukes — which is the 
only one which is continued after the carcass has made 
one revolution, describes a spiral about the carcass, and 
the blubber unrolls in a continuous strip, about three feet 

The neck of a sperm whale, if he can be said to have 


a neck, is about the thickest part of him. It may be eleven 
or twelve feet through, or even more. It is here that his 
head is to be cut off, and the junction of the vertebra 
with the head must be^found far within the mass of flesh; 
found very exactly, if the mate is to make a good clean 
job of it. The foremost scarf, if the cutting has been done 
as it should be done, marks the place where the mate must 
begin his cut to sever the head. Mr. Wallet, having paused 
ostentatiously, for the purpose of showing his righteous 
annoyance at the slowness of Mr. Tilton and Mr. Snow — ■ 
they did not seem put out by this show of annoyance, but 
amused — Mr. Wallet, I say, having thrown out his chest 
for a minute or two, took up the cutting of the foremost 
scarf, and Mr. Brown joined him at it. The cutting was 
soon done as far down as the men could get at it. 

Azevedo, Mr. Tilton's boatsteerer, was then lowered 
on one of the blocks of the cutting- falls, and stepped off 
upon the carcass. He had woolen socks upon his feet, I 
noticed. I noticed this, as he was accustomed to go bare- 
foot, as were the crew pretty generally. I learned that 
woolen socks were supposed to give him a surer footing 
than anything else. He had a monkey-rope also, although 
he would have gone without it if the captain would let 
him; but if he slipped in between the whale and the ship 
he would be a goner. He stood or stepped about on 
the body with apparent carelessness, although he did not 
let go his hold on the falls. My heart was in my mouth for 
fear that he would slip off among the swarming sharks, 
but he paid no attention to them, except to push aside with 
his foot one which had come too close. He had had long 
experience, and told me afterward that there was little to 
fear from the sharks as long as the whale was there. The 
gulls, too, and other scavengers of the air, had gathered, 
and there was a wheeling, screaming flock of them over my 
head. We were not so very far offshore. 

Attached to the lower end of the cutting-falls was a 


gigantic iron hook. This hook Azevedo fitted into the hole 
cut through the blubber. The blubber of a whale is his 
skin, a peculiar cellular and fibrous structure containing 
the oil, and it is from five to twelve inches thick, vary- 
ing with the size of the whale and the place on his body 
that it comes from. The blubber of the right whale is 
thicker. It is thickest on the back, less thick on the 
sides, and thinnest on his belly. On the shoulder it is 
very tough. Although the sea was not high, it was hard 
work getting the hook in place, and Azevedo grunted and 
sweated as he squatted or kneeled on one knee on the car- 
cass, and the seas washed over his legs and wet him to 
the waist. But he got the hook in place at last, with the 
help of a long knife. Then he rose to his feet, holding to 
the falls with one hand, and gave the word to heave. 

This duty of the boatsteerer is unpleasant enough at 
best, but when the sea is rough I have seen a man almost 
drowned by the water which continually swept over him. 
Under such conditions the enormous hook is jerked and 
swayed by the roll of the ship; and he has to be con- 
stantly on the lookout that the heave of the ship and the 
heave of the whale, which usually will not be in the same 
direction at any instant, do not catch him between them. 

Two men were at the gangway, to steer the sheet of 
blubber — called the blanket piece — as it came up, and 
twenty men at the windlass. When Azevedo gave the 
word, " Haul taut and heave away," the whole twenty of 
them pumped at the windlass, which clanked merrily at 
first, then more slowly as the falls took the strain; then 
more slowly still, with the men singing out, and puffing 
and grunting. The ship slowly heeled over toward the 
whale. Then, suddenly, there was a ripping, rending 
sound, the ship righted and rolled a little, and there was 
the hook with the end of the blanket piece of blubber in 
the air, clear of the carcass, which had turned part way 
over in the bight of the fluke-chain. I may not have said 


that the body is held by a loop or bight of heavy chain 
at the " small," just forward of his flukes, so that it will 
turn freely. In addition to this there is a chain about the 
lower jaw at first, but that, of course, does not hold the 
carcass after the jaw is cut off, which is one of the earli- 
est operations. 

Mr. Tilton and Mr. Snow continued cutting the rear 
scarf, Mr. Brown kept at the forward scarf, or necklace, 
where the head was to be cut off, and Mr. Wallet again 
attacked the tongue and the other hinge of the jaw as the 
turning of the carcass gave him opportunity. The heavy 
strip of blubber rose slowly as the crew pumped at the 
windlass, and the spades of the mates rose and fell regu- 
larly. The tongue and the jaw were hoisted in by the sec- 
ond cutting- falls. That jaw looked enormous as it came in 
over the side. When the tackle was tight up, block to 
block, it was not quite clear of the gangway, and they had 
to swing the other end around, and heave it in. When it 
was on deck, it was pushed over into the port scuppers, 
out of the way. They then resumed work upon the blanket 
piece of blubber, the work of cutting off the head being 
carried forward at the same time. 

The blanket strip was soon high in the air, the falls 
block to block. The steady clanking of the windlass 
stopped, and the men had a breathing spell of a few min- 
utes, as Mr. Baker called " Chock-a-block. Board blanket 

Mr. Tilton stood at the gangway with a boarding-knife 
in his hands, and took the attitude of a man about to take 
part in a bayonet charge. That was virtually what he did. 
The boarding-knife is a sword-like blade, nearly straight, 
thirty inches long, and it is fixed in the end of a stout 
wooden handle, about three feet long. With this formid- 
able weapon Mr. Tilton made violent lunges and plunges 
at the strip of blubber just above the break of the gang- 
way, and soon had a hole through it. Through this hole 


an " eye-strop " — a loop of heavy rope, through one end 
of which the blubber-hook passes — was passed, and its 
oak toggle pounded into place on the other side and 
lashed, to make its hold on the blubber secure. 

Meanwhile the fall of the first tackle had been secured 
and the strain put on the second tackle. There are two 
drums on the windlass, and one fall leads to each drum. 
The man with the boarding-knife again attacked 
the strip of blubber, this time a little above the hole, 
and by a series of stabs and slashes he cut it across, 
and the upper piece swung in over the open hatch, and 
was lowered to the blubber room, where it was stowed, the 
outside — " black skin," as it is called — down. This pro- 
ceeding surprised me, for I had supposed, without giving 
the matter any thought, that it would be dumped upon the 
deck and cut up there. I did not know what a mountain of 
blubber it would make, and the deck well cluttered up with 
the jaw and the junk and the small, as you will see. One 
or two of the last strips of blubber they did dump there. 
My surprise, I found, was justified somewhat. No more 
blubber is put between decks than is necessary to pro- 
vide working space on deck. A big whale can be tried 
out in thirty-six hours, and it would only mean hoisting 
out almost immediately. But in this case there was a 
threat of rain, and rain spoils blubber. 

The cutting-in proceeded rapidly. Mr. Wallet and Mr. 
Brown were engaged upon various dissections of the head 
at the same time that the blanket piece was being stripped 
off, and from time to time there were interruptions in the 
regular progress of the blanket pieces to enable them to 
finish certain stages of the operation in the order that 
has been found to be proper. It is necessary that the head 
should be dissected into its parts and cut off before the 
stripping of the blanket pieces has gone very far. This is 
the most important operation in cutting-in, as the head 
of the sperm whale contains the most valuable of his 


The head of the sperm whale, as seen from the side, is 
roughly rectangular in outline, with an exaggerated up- 
per jaw which seems out of all manner of proportion to 
the lower. In large whales the height of the square fore- 
head or nose is eleven to thirteen feet, and the width of it 
nine to eleven feet, while the lower jaw is slender and 
pointed. This exaggeration of the upper part of the head 
does not argue anything in regard to the size of the brain, 
as might naturally be supposed. The brain is placed in a 
normal position in regard to the eye, which is a little 
above and behind the angle of the mouth, and appears to 
be set too low down in the head. 

All of this huge upper part of the head is nothing but 
an excrescence: a tough, fibrous or fatty matter, in which 
there can be little feeling if there is any. Whales some- 
times ram ships, striking them with that upper part of the 
head or nose — and sink them, too — and swim raging off, 
apparently little the worse for the encounter. There are 
some well-authenticated cases which I cannot be expected 
to remember, for they happened many years before I was 
born. I refer especially to the cases of the Ann Alexander 
and the Essex, which were sunk by whales, and there have 
been others. There is no doubt about it, although the fact 
has been doubted by a good many people who knew noth- 
ing about whales. You would never have found a whale- 
man who doubted it. I know of one case, at least, which 
occurred well within my recollection. The Kathleen was 
sunk by a whale in 1902, several hundred miles from land, 
and the crew took to the boats, cheerfully enough, I do 
not doubt, with the prospect before them of a voyage 
of over a week at the very least, and possibly two or 


three. The master of the Kathleen lived within a block 
of me. His wife was on that voyage, with her parrot, 
which lived to tell the tale. These same Bolshevik whales 
can carry timbers, from the bows of ships which they 
have sunk, embedded in their heads for years without 
apparent inconvenience. 

However, the primary purpose of that exaggeration of 
the upper jaw is not to serve as a battering ram. In the 
upper part of that great growth is a well of the purest 
oil extending very nearly the length of the head. This 
is called the " case." Just what its purpose is nobody 
seems to know, although there have been many guesses. 
One of these guesses is that the well of oil helps to float 
the heavy head; but this guess can hardly be right, for 
the head, when severed, immediately turns, with the 
spiracle, or blow-hole, down. 

Between the case and the skull lies the " junk," of still 
tougher material than the case, but containing consider- 
able oil, although it is not contained in a single well. The 
cells of the junk are from four to eight inches across, 
filled with faintly yellow oil, or oily substance, which is 
translucent when warm. The walls of these cells are com- 
posed of extremely tough, interlacing fibres, or ligaments, 
called " white horse." The separation of the junk from the 
case is on a very nearly horizontal line running through 
the nose just above the bump — or what looks like a 
bump. The contents of the case seem to be liquid during 
the life of the whale, but after the body becomes cold, 
they become partly solid. The solid part is spermaceti. 

The skull, if separated from the excrescence, bears 
some resemblance to the head of an alligator, and the eye 
seems to be set right enough. This separation of the head 
into its parts was what Mr. Wallet and Mr. Brown were 
proceeding to accomplish. While they were cutting the 
case from the junk, Macy and George Hall, boat-steerers 
for the first and second mates, rove ropes in each cheek 


for the chains which were to hold the case. When the sep- 
aration was complete, the case was passed astern, held by 
chains, nose down in the water, until the cutting-in should 
be finished and the carcass cut adrift. The junk was then 
cut away from the skull and hoisted bodily on deck. Dur- 
ing the operation of cutting the junk from the skull, they 
cut alongside and close to the skull, and as they could not 
see what they were cutting, but had to go by feeling, there 
were several spades spoiled. The cutters passed these 
dulled spades in on deck, and freshly sharpened spades 
were passed to them. I heard the noise of the grindstone 
during the whole operation. 

They were a long time in cutting the junk and the case, 
and there was nothing to see except the swarming sharks, 
and I got tired of seeing the spades rise and fall out of 
sight in that mass of flesh, so I turned away. Unfortu- 
nately Mr. Baker chanced to see me, and suggested, in 
unnecessarily vigorous language, that if I had nothing 
else to do I had better turn the grindstone. I thought it 
best to humor him, so I went over to that device of the 
devil, and found Black Tony sharpening spades and Black 
Man'el turning for him. 

Man'el looked up. " What you want, little Tim ? " he 
asked, grinning. 

" Mr. Baker told me to turn the grindstone," I an- 

" Aw, you go 'way f 'om here," said Man'el, his grin 
widening. " I turn for Tony. You could n't turn well 
enough. Nice place over there," he went on, nodding his 
head sidewise toward the port rail. " Mr. Baker won't 
see you." 

He looked up at Tony, who nodded in confirmation, and 
I found an inconspicuous place against the rail, on the 
side away from the cutting. Here I stood, and looked out 
over a gentle sea. The sun was high, and it was pleasantly 
warm, and the oily smell from the cutting-in was not dis- 


agreeable, although I was to leeward and got it all. The 
sounds of the men pumping at the windlass, and the mates 
on the cutting-stage, and the noise of an occasionally 
shouted order, sounded more and more faintly in my ears 
until they ceased to carry their message to my brain. I 
heard only the screams of the seabirds wheeling above me, 
and I saw a glittering sea which danced before my half- 
closed eyes. 

How long I remained in this hypnotic state, between 
sleeping and waking, I do not know; but I was suddenly 
aroused by a shout, and turned, to see what seemed to be 
a blackfish come sliding across the deck, straight at me. 
It was the small. The explanation is simple, although I did 
not know it at the time. As they approach the small in 
unrolling the blanket piece, it comes harder and harder, 
for the forward end of the carcass has no support except 
the strip of blubber to which the hook of the cutting-falls 
is fast, and the raw, red shoulders hang low in the water, 
so that it is hard to turn them over. When the small is 
reached, therefore, the carcass is cut clean through, and 
the forward end sent adrift, accompanied by the shoal of 
silent sharks and the swarming seabirds. The flukes are 
then cut off, and the small hoisted bodily in upon deck. 

My only thought, if I had a thought, was to get out of 
the way of this slippery black monster. I jumped away 
from my place, which seemed to be its destined resting- 
place, the next jump being as far into the future as I had 
time to look. The deck was now a perilous place to make 
your way about on, lumbered up as it was with the jaw 
and the junk, and the last blanket piece of blubber, which 
lay pretty well across it, beside the open hatch; and it 
was covered with oil, as was the gangway and the rail 
near it. I had no time to consider or to measure chances. 
I went skipping lightly from floe to floe, like Eliza fleeing 
from the bloodhounds; and I stepped upon the piece of 
blubber innocently lying there, meaning to spring across 


the hatch. It looked firm, and there was nowhere else to 
step without running into something, and I was on my 
way and I could not stop. It did not look so very slippery. 
But it was slippery, .and it was not firm; and my foot 
slipped, and the piece of blubber tipped just enough to 
shoot me down the open hatch. 

As I went down, I caught a glimpse of an astonished 
brown face, in the comparative darkness of the blubber 
room, gazing with mouth hanging open, and wide eyes. 
Then I landed, sitting down, on the other pieces of blub- 
ber, which the owner of the brown face had been stowing. 
I struggled about there in the half darkness for some time 
before I could get upon my feet. I had no help from the 
Kanaka Tom. I thought he would have a fit. He fairly 
shrieked with laughter until he could not stand, to say 
nothing of helping me. The pieces of blubber slipped 
about and threw me again and again, and when I finally 
managed to get up, I seemed to have been swimming in 
oil. My clothes were soaked with it. I had managed to 
keep my face and hair out of it, but that was about all. 

I heard great shouts of laughter from the deck, but I 
did not mind, for it was funny. It would have been fun- 
nier for them if they could all have seen me wrestling 
with the blubber. I found myself grinning as soon as I 
had got over the immediate effects of my struggle. I 
grinned at the helpless Tom. My clothes were not uncom- 
fortable, but they were hopelessly spoiled for any other 
use than an oily one. 

When I got on deck again — I took good care to be aft 
of the hatch, and stood under the gallows by the mainmast 
— they were shifting the case forward, so that it should 
be near the gangway. A whip was already rigged at the 
main yardarm, which was braced forward. Every few sec- 
onds one of the crew caught sight of me standing there 
in my oily clothes, and he whooped and shouted with 
laughter. I was not sensitive about such tilings, and I 


grinned in return. The Admiral and Black Man'el were 
the most affected by the sight of me, the Admiral letting 
out such a whoop as would have scared away all the 
whales within ten miles. Even Black Tony, who rarely 
smiled and never laughed, but was always dignified and as 
stiff and straight as a poker, could not help smiling. 

Black Tony should have been an officer of the high 
command in some army. He looked the part, lean, straight, 
and tall, dignified always, and silent and reserved, the 
only thing out of keeping being his thin gold earrings, 
and perhaps his color. I think all the other men looked 
up to him, even the mates, in a way; but he was not even 
a boatsteerer. Certainly few attempts were made to play 
upon him any of the rough jokes of sailors. I remember 
once, when we were on the Western grounds, which are to 
the westward of the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic 
Ocean, some poor fool did try a practical joke on him. 

The case was now at the gangway, and there was no 
more chance for shouts of merriment on the part of the 
crew, for they were again at the windlass, swaying up on 
the cutting-tackles, which had been hooked on to the case. 
They could do very little with it, however, no matter how 
hard they pumped. The ship heeled over toward it, and 
there it stuck, and there it was secured, the upper, open 
end about on a level with the deck. 

The case-bucket was then made fast to the line run- 
ning through the block at the yardarm. The case-bucket 
looks not unlike an old-fashioned fire-bucket with a bulg- 
ing bottom, except that old fire-buckets were made of 
leather, and the case-bucket was of wood, bound about 
with as many hoops as the old oaken bucket. Wright took 
his place at the gangway, with a wooden pole in his hands 
nearly twenty feet long. With this pole he pushed the 
bucket down, and a bucketful of the mushy contents of 
the case, consisting of oil and shreds of half-solidified 
spermaceti, plopped into it. It was then drawn up by men 


on the other end of the line, and emptied into a butt. 
As many men as could get at the open end of the well of 
oil were bailing with anything they could lay their hands 
to, the long-handled Copper dippers for dipping oil out 
of the try-pots, buckets, tin pails without long handles. 
When the level of oil was lowered, the dippers without 
long handles became useless, of course, but the copper 
dippers could be used for some time. When these came 
up nearly empty the case-bucket worked alone. 

At last the long pole in Wright's hands had been 
pushed down for nearly its whole length, to the bottom 
of the well and the case-bucket would bring up no more 
oil. There was still some at the bottom of the well, how- 
ever, and Black Man'el, stripped to a ragged old pair of 
overalls, went down with the bucket. He disappeared in 
the black cavern. We could see nothing of him, but the 
bucket made more than one trip before it brought him up 
again. He was a sight to see, dripping oil everywhere, his 
tightly curling hair full of it and of soft, silky shreds of 
spermaceti. I laughed at him, saying that it was my turn 
to laugh; but he only showed all his white teeth, replying 
that he liked it, and that the oil kept him warm and 
" soopled " him, and recommending it to me. I could un- 
derstand that it might be pleasant to bathe in oil, in case- 
oil, for it had an agreeable smell, faintly like that of milk 
as it foams in the buckets ; but I could not have stood get- 
ting my hair full of it. 

As Man'el came up from his oil bath, I heard laughter 
behind me, and other sounds of merriment and gaiety, and 
I turned to see the cause. There was the small, froiu 
which the blubber had been stripped, lying raw and 
ghastly. Some half-dozen men were gathered behind it, on 
the side away from the gangway, and as I looked, they 
began to push. It was like a game of push-ball, with the 
raw, red small of a whale for the ball; too heavy to be 



much like the real push-ball, of which, of course, I had 
never heard at that time. Nobody had heard of it in 1872. 
The ship was rolling gently, and while they had to push 
uphill they made little or no progress, but when she rolled 
to starboard, the small got to going pretty fast. The deck 
was slippery, and each man was pushing as hard as he 
could for his chuckling, hoping, I supposed, to swing it 
around so that it would not go out of the gangway, for 
which it was aimed. 

In that purpose they were successful. The small 
struck hard against one of the stanchions at the corner of 
the opening, swung around, and as the ship rolled back, 
it started for the port rail, knocking a man down. Then 
the laughter bubbled forth, led by the blacks and the 
Kanakas. I had some fear that the sliding small might 
break out the rail on the port side; but the jaw was there, 
and the men collected strength enough to stop the slide, 
although it carried very nearly across the deck. The disci- 
pline was not strict, for it does no harm to have a laugh- 
ing crew; but the pushing rapidly developed into horse- 
play. Then Mr. Brown stopped it with a curt word, and 
the men fell to very industriously, but their faces were 
merry still, and gushes of laughter bubbled out now and 
then. At the next roll of the ship, the small shot from the 
gangway as from a catapult, and into the water nearly a 
couple of fathoms from the side with a tremendous 
splash, which wet the men at the gangway. 

Of course it had to be Mr. Brown who stopped that 
horse-play, and I felt an admiration for his way of doing 
it, with two or three words, although I did not hear what 
he said. Mr. Baker would have stopped it sooner and more 
violently. I think the men were all afraid of Mr. Baker, 
which was, no doubt, the feeling which he wished to in- 
spire. As for Mr. Wallet, he could not have done it in a 
thousand years, and it would never have occurred to him 


to try; but Mr. Brown stopped it at just the right point, 
and left the men feeling gay and high-spirited. The whole 
thing, while unimporttint in itself, showed the feeling of 
the men toward our third mute, and his way of dealing 
with them. 


The cutting-in was over by the middle of the afternoon, 
for that first whale of ours was not very large. If our 
windlass had been as powerful as modern windlasses, we 
should have been able to get the case — or even the whole 
head — bodily on deck, and to get at the oil within it 
more quickly and completely. The holds of the cutting- 
falls had been cut away, and the empty case had drifted 
astern, sinking slowly as it went; the junk had been 
emptied of its oil, the pure, sweet oil following the spades 
at every cut; and men were already busy with squeezing 
out the shreds of spermaceti from the case-matter, two 
men to a tub. These men seemed to be in no hurry, and to 
find their task pleasant. I was naturally curious, as a boy 
should be, and I plunged my hand into a tub of it. I found 
it to be an exceedingly pleasant unguent, and the half- 
solidified spermaceti infinitely soothing to hands that were 
cut and scraped, bruised and chapped. I understood — or 
I thought I understood — the leisurely way in which the 
men were working, although this work cannot be done in 
a hurry and done well. If the spermaceti is not taken out 
pretty completely, it chars in the try-pots, and darkens 
the oil, which lessens its value. Head oil is the lightest in 
color, and the most valuable, and it is always kept sepa- 

Our mainyards were now aback, the mainsail furled, 
the topsails reefed, and the ship made very little way, 
rolling slowly on a drift to leeward. Some of the crew 
had cleaned out the try-works, taking out the odds and 
ends and trash with which the pots were filled, and had 
laid a fire under them. Wood was used for this first fire, 
but after the first lot of blubber has been tried out, the 


scraps or " fritters " — blubber from which the oil has 
been tried, and which are fried crisp — are used for feed- 
ing the fire. They barn well and fiercely, with a huge vol- 
ume of nauseous black smoke. The scraps remaining from 
one trying-out are kept to start the fire on the next oc- 

The trying-out started on the head-matter, in order to 
keep the oil from contamination, and to preserve its light 
color. Meanwhile there were two men in the blubber room 
with knife and spade to cut from the blubber the pieces 
of flesh that had come off with it. They then cut the 
blanket strips into smaller pieces, roughly rectangular. 
These " horse-pieces," as they are called, were cut all the 
way across the blanket, and about six or eight inches 
wide; so that, in this case, they were strips, about three 
feet long and eight inches wide. They are sometimes not so 
long. In cutting the horse-pieces, the men generally stood 
on the strip in their bare feet, and cut it with a sharp 
spade held vertically. I knew how slippery those strips 
of blubber could be, and I trembled for fear that, on that 
unstable footing, the sharp spade might fall on the wrong 
spot and cut off a few of those wriggling toes, or even a 
foot. It would be easy. The spade was sharp and heavy, 
and a man might cut off his toes before he knew it; but 
I saw no such accident, either then or later, although I 
believe it was not uncommon. The men did not seem to be 
afraid of accidents. 

When the blubber had been cut this way, the " horse- 
pieces " were tossed on deck and taken to the mincers. The 
mincers were men — usually two — who wielded heavy, 
two-handled knives about two feet long, with a handle at 
each end; the knives being a sort of a cross between a 
butcher's cleaver and a carpenter's draw-knife, or more 
nearly, perhaps, a cleaver with a handle at each end. The 
mincers work against the end of a heavy block, or horse, at 
the height of their belts — if they happen to have belts — 


and chop and slice the flesh side of the blubber, with a 
peculiar rolling motion of the heavy knife. The mincer 
used both hands to hold his mincing-knife, while a second 
man held the horse-piece on the block. The flesh side of 
the blubber is cut in this way into thin strips, resembling 
strips of bacon, leaving the outside, or black skin, intact. 
These are called " bible-leaves," and are ready for the 

There was a pair of try-pots set in brickwork just abaft 
the foremast, with room to work for the men tending 
them. These men stand forward of the try-works. As I 
have said before, there was a roof, or house, over them, as 
is usually, but not always, the case. The fire-space under- 
neath was separated from the deck by a low platform 
which projected some distance beyond the fire-doors, and 
this platform had under it a tank, which was always filled 
with water when the fire was burning, to protect the deck. 
The fire-doors were in the forward side of the try-works. 
They were of iron, and could be slid back or swung up- 
ward. Two — three, if there are three try-pots — smoke- 
stacks of copper, and of rectangular section, projected a 
little way above the roof. 

I have given these details of the arrangements because 
I know that there are now comparatively few people who 
are familiar with them; in fact, there are none except 
whalemen and outfitters, and men and boys who have 
been in the habit of running over the ships at will. Even 
the boys of that last class, if there are still any such, are 
probably not as familiar with the arrangements as they 
ought to be, although they may think they are. I had seen 
whalers since I could remember, and had rambled over 
them, and played on them and beside them throughout 
my boyhood, but I had never given a thought to the ques- 
tion whether the fire was fed from aft or from forward of 
the try-works. I suppose I should have said that the doors 
opened aft. Somehow, that seemed the natural way — for 


the men to face the bows as they work. It is not, as it 
happens. Just aft of the try-works was the bench, with a 
vise and other " fixins," where repairs were made on the 
harpoons and lances and pretty nearly everything else. 

Remembering my mistakes — some of them — I am not 
inclined to be so severe upon the men of Atlantic City as 
some whalemen are. A whaleship went ashore upon those 
hospitable sands, and they took her as she was, high and 
dry on the beach, and they repaired her, and fitted her 
completely, as they supposed, and used her as one more 
exhibition — one more attraction for the crowds which 
throng the Boardwalk. I can imagine them; I can even 
see them coming in crowds, at ten or fifteen cents a head, 
to go over the whaler — the " spouter," as I have no doubt 
they called her, although I rarely heard the term used 
among whalemen. But, on one day of ill-fortune, there 
chanced to be a whaleman in that crowd. He looked criti- 
cally over the old ship, saying nothing; and he found that 
they had made the try-works face the wrong way, putting 
the fire-doors aft instead of in the forward side. He 
smiled, I do not doubt, but still he said nothing — in At- 
lantic City. When he got home, however, it was a different 
thing, and the matter was spread abroad in New Bedford, 
and it got into the papers, which had no end of fun with 
the poor, ignorant Atlantic Citizens. Occasionally it crops 
out yet in the " Mercury " or the " Standard." They 
simply cannot resist giving the natives of New Jersey a 
poke now and then. 

I can hardly expect readers of this rambling narrative 
to be better versed in such matters than those men of At- 
lantic City. In order that they may not be in a state of 
chaotic ignorance in regard to them, I have dwelt on the 
details to a degree which most whalemen would think un- 
necessary and an insult to their intelligence. They would 
take all these things for granted. 

The mates and boatsteerers officiate at the try-pots, 


and handle the long-handled, long-shanked devil-forks, or 
the skimmers, or the copper dippers. They began with the 
head-matter, for reasons which I have given. When this 
was cooked enough, it was ladled out of the try-pots with 
the long-handled copper dippers that I have mentioned, 
and into the copper cooling-tank which stood beside the 
try-pots. From the cooling-tank the oil overflows into a 
huge iron pot. From this, in turn, it is again dipped, and 
put into casks, or barrels, marked " Head " or " Case " 
or " Junk." 

I did not see this last operation at this time, however. 
My duties lay mostly in the cabin and the steerage, with 
the officers and boatsteerers, and I had to go when I was 
called, or before if I had sense enough for it. I was ex- 
pected to be on hand at meal times, or a little before, and 
help the steward. It was now about supper-time, and I 
was so interested in the process of trying-out that the 
steward had to send for me, or come for me, which did 
not improve his temper. I am afraid that I skimped my 
duties much of the time, but a boy of fifteen has no great 
sense of responsibility. Captain Nelson was indulgent to 
me up to a certain point, but he had to give me a wigging 
more than once. I deserved the wigging, and I knew it 
well, and was always respectful and very repentant. The 
captain usually ended by laughing and bidding me mind 
my eye, which I was quite willing to do, and I always 
promised faithfully that I would. And then there would 
come the next time, which was generally due to my great 
interest in something which I was seeing for the first 
time, perhaps. I have no doubt that that fact was taken 
into account in Captain Nelson's distribution of justice. 
He was a just man. 

It was dark when I got back on deck. Trying-out goes 
on steadily, day and night, until it is done. A trying-out 
watch is trying in more senses than one. Each watch con- 
sists of half the crew, who are on duty for a longer time 


on end than usual. It is hard labor, and in a long siege 
of trying-out, the men get so tired and dazed and sleepy 
that they move in a drowse, and they will fall asleep any- 
where. It is in this state that the man will nap standing 
at the wheel, and the man on the royal yard also, the thin 
stay in the hollow of his shoulders, and an arm hooked in 
the running rigging. 

They had finished the head-matter, and had it already 
ladled into casks lashed along the rail. There it would 
stay for a day or two until it was cool enough to stow 
below. They had been working on the blubber for some 
little time, and the smoke coming from the stacks was 
thick and black, except when red flames belched from 
them, mixed with the smoke. Sometimes, when oil got into 
the fire, perhaps from the boiling over of the pots, the 
stacks sent broad sheets of flame six or eight feet into the 
air. These cast a ruddy glare over everything, throwing 
the illuminated portions of the masts and sails and rig- 
ging into high relief, and making bloody reflections from 
the glistening faces and bare arms of the men, and from 
the crests of breaking seas. Altogether it was a scene of 
weirdness, but it was evil-smelling, and the whole thing 
smacked of evil, the men looking like devils feeding the 
firs to torture some poor lost soul. 

The mates stood on the little platform in front of the 
try-pots, watching their kettles of fat, stirring them now 
and then with their long-handled, long-shanked devil- 
forks. Now and then they picked up a piece of blubber on 
their forks, holding it for an instant clear of the mess, to 
see if the oil was all tried out of it, and if it was thor- 
oughly done. At last one of the pots was ready, and the 
piece of blubber, after dripping for a moment into the 
pot, was thrown on deck instead of being dropped back. 
It was crisp, and the edges curled like a piece of bacon; 
it sizzled as it lay there, and it would crackle when it had 
cooled a little. Standing at some distance from the try- 


pots, as I was, it made my mouth water; but I am afraid 
it would not have been as good as it looked. At any rate, 
I was not to try it, for the fire-door was opened, and the 
piece of bacon thrown in with an iron fork. 

The boatsteerers now came crowding around, with 
shallow strainers, or skimmers, about a foot across, with a 
perforated bottom and a long handle, and took out the 
pieces of blubber, letting each drain out its oil, and threw 
them on deck. They were the scraps, and would be used 
almost immediately for feeding the fires. There was an 
extra try-pot there, three feet across, with legs a few 
inches long cast on it, standing on the deck near; in fact, 
there were two of them. It was intended that the hot 
scraps should be thrown into one of these, but it was 
easier to throw them on deck, so that was where most of 
them went, although some of them got into the pot. 

A piece of cold minced blubber — bible-leaves — was 
put into the second pot to hold it back while the first was 
emptied. A great square copper tank stood beside the try- 
works, the cooling-tank already mentioned. Although I 
never measured our tank, I should think it was about 
three feet wide by four feet long, and stood nearly five 
feet high. With the long-handled copper dippers the hot 
oil was ladled from the try-pot into this tank, which held 
a good deal of oil. Here the oil cooled a little, and some of 
the stuff, which the skimmers had not taken out, settled 
toward the bottom. From the side of the tank, near the 
top, projected an overflow spout, with a fine strainer back 
of it, and under the spout was kept one of those huge iron 
pots on short legs. The try-pot which had been emptied 
was now recharged with fresh minced blubber, and the 
operation was being repeated. 

The contents of the second pot were soon ready, and 
were ladled into the tank, and that try-pot recharged with 
fresh minced blubber. So it went on: horse-pieces, 
mincers, try-pots and tank. I know well that all the men 


concerned in the process were tired enough of it before 
they got through, if they thought about it at all. Perhaps 
they did not think, arid merely did it as part of the day's 
work; or, at best, took pride in their individual skill in the 
part of the process assigned to each. 

I got very simply tired of the monotony of it, and nau- 
seated with the smell of the burning scraps. It was im- 
possible to get away from that smell without jumping 
overboard, and I was not yet ready for that. The thick, 
oily black smoke rose in a column from the two copper 
stacks, and drifted off in the darkness to leeward; and 
the men under the shadow of the roof were occasionally 
bathed in a ruddy light, as they wielded their forks or 
their skimmers or their copper dippers. I watched the 
smooth stream of oil run smoking from the overflow spout 
with each dipperful that was ladled into the tank, while 
the level of the oil in the huge iron pot got higher and 
higher. I had had enough of watching it. We had caught 
one whale, had tried out less than a third of the oil, and 
there was blubber everywhere, and I was tired of it al- 
ready. How many whales would it take to fill us up? Per- 
haps forty. Perhaps fifty or more if we were able to send 
home any of our oil. The thought of it staggered me, and 
I turned away. 

They had already broken out some of our cargo. The 
cargo consisted largely of casks, which were variously la- 
belled with chalk or white paint, and some of the new 
casks, light colored, with that black paint which is used in 
putting the addresses on wooden boxes or cases. Of the 
new casks some were labelled " Bread," some " Flour," 
and so on through our list of food that would keep. The 
" bread " was not the soft kind that I was familiar with in 
the form of light, delicately brown loaves — my mother's. 
Tt was hardbread, or hardtack, and it looked much like 
dogbread, like a rock when freshly baked. Good dogbread 
tastes better than old hardtack, but hardtack in good con- 


dition is pretty good. It is good for the teeth. Of course 
there were no casks of green vegetables, or of eggs or 
of butter or of milk, or of many other things which we 
think necessary to our well-being ashore. There were some 
of salt beef, such as it was. The casks which contained the 
bread and the flour and what-not, when they had been 
emptied in the regular course of events, would be filled 
with oil. 

. We had been out too short a time to empty many of 
these casks, and others were being hoisted from the hold, 
with the legend " Heads and hoops." There were shooks 
of staves, too, the staves for each cask hooped together 
tightly, and bearing some resemblance to fasces. If I 
had known at that time what fasces were, I should have 
expected to see the sharp head of a cutting-spade project- 
ing from each bundle. Such a bundle might be borne be- 
fore a whaling captain as the symbol of his authority. 
But I had never heard of fasces, and I was interested 
only in the process of opening the casks and getting out 
the heads and hoops. The bundles of staves would come 

The cooper was in charge of this work, but a number 
of men were helping him. There is always more or less 
cooper work being done on a whaler, and there were half a 
dozen men in the crew who were pretty skilful at it. 
There was an abundance of cooper's tools on board, espe- 
cially of hammers and the little tools that are set against 
the hoops, and struck or tapped with the hammer held in 
the right hand, to drive the hoops up or down. I think 
these were called " tappers," but I am not sure at this 
moment. Names which were once familiar to me have a 
curious habit of slipping from my mind and eluding all 
my efforts to recover them. I suppose it is a symptom of 
age. The old-fashioned name of a perforated skimmer 
about five or six inches across, very slightly concave; up- 
wards, and with a flat iron handle — somewhat resem* 


bling the try-pot skimmers on a small scale — has eluded 
me in that way for some years. I almost have it, and it is 
gone. My mother or my grandmother could have told me 
in an instant, but I suppose it is of no use to ask. anybody 

It did not take long to open the casks. That is perhaps 
the simplest form of cooperage. They opened enough to 
give them the heads and hoops that were needed. Then 
came the bundles of staves, which were undone carefully, 
one bundle at a time, so as not to get the staves mixed. 
These staves, being old and oil-soaked, were quickly set 
up, and the casks rolled over to join the others already 
lashed by the bulwarks, to be filled with hot oil. They 
were filled through a big copper funnel — Peter called 
it a tunnel — with a fine wire strainer fastened in it, and 
a nozzle that fitted in the bunghole of a barrel. The mouth 
of this funnel was large and square, and there was a dou- 
ble bend in its long nose, setting off the mouth from the 
bunghole by a couple of feet. 

They do these things differently now. There are large 
iron cooling-tanks below decks, and the hot oil is poured 
into them through a pipe which opens in the deck near the 
try-pots. I have no experience with them, for they were 
unknown to me in 1872, so that I cannot say whether the 
oil cools as quickly in the tanks as it did in the casks. 
The tanks save a great deal of work, although we had 
men enough to do the work except when we were very 
much crowded, with two or three whales at once fast 
alongside, waiting to be cut-in and tried out. 

The casks that had been filled were beginning to show 
a slight ooze of oil at their seams. I was watching them 
when Peter Bottom stopped beside me. 

He gave me a friendly smile. " This 11 never do," he 
said, " will it ? 'Most all the casks leak at first. You '11 hear 
a deal of setting up hoops before we stow it — and after, 
too, or the barrels might be empty, some of 'em, when we 


got home. A lot of oil can leak out in four years, if it 's 
only a few drops a day." 

I made no answer, and Peter glanced at me. " What 's 
the matter ? Little mite seasick ? " 

" Oh, Peter ! " I said. " The smell ! " 

He smiled again. " Lor' love you, " he said, " this is 
nothin'. It 's pretty had sometimes, when we 've had the 
try-works going for three or four days and nights. Then 
we 're so tired we can hardly stand, and there 's so much 
oil and water over everything you can't walk the deck. 
Why, many a time, I 've sat down and slid across the deck 
on the seat of my trousers. And the foul smoke chokes and 
strangles you, and it feels as if it had got all through you, 
and you 'd like to scrape your lungs with a knife, to get 
off the soot. Everything 's covered with oil, your clothes 
soaked with it, your skin full of it, your feet, hands, and 
hair. Break a biscuit and it shines with oil, and cut a 
piece o' meat out o' the kid and the knife leaves its trail 
of oil. There 's no gettin' away from it, and you fair hate 
yourself. But cheer up, Tim, it '11 soon be over, and then 
you '11 see such a cleanin' up as you never knew. Sperm 
oil washes off easy, praise the pigs ! " 

I was not greatly comforted. I could not stand it any 
longer, and I went to the stern and tried to get a breath 
of sweet air. There was none. All the air over that great 
ocean seemed to be loaded with poison from the burning 
scraps, and I gave it up, and turned in. 

I lay for a long time in the darkness, listening to the 
breathing of the men in the other bunks, and seeing, be- 
fore the eye of the mind, the ooze from those seams grow 
into light amber-colored drops. Then I thought of the 
multitude of barrels that would make up our full cargo — > 
twenty-four hundred of them — and from each cask an 
ooze of oil that grew imperceptibly into a drop. It was 
incredibly slow, that growth. And then all the drops 
growing, even more slowly, until they shivered a little, 


ready to fall. I almost held my breath, waiting for them 
to fall, and tried to multiply twenty-four hundred by 
three hundred and sixty-five by four — see whether you 
can do it, in your hlad, while you wait for all those drops 
to fall at once — mental arithmetic, they called it in 
school. I remember that I wished I knew how much oil 
there was in a drop, so that I should know how much oil 
we should lose if, for each barrel, there was a leak 
amounting to a drop a day. Before I had the problem more 
than begun, I fell asleep, with the drops all trembling, on 
the very point of falling. I dreamt about it, and woke 
early. The problem still bothered me, and I went to get 
pencil and paper, or its equivalent, and figure out that 
product. Then I would ask Captain Nelson how much oil 
there was in a drop, and I should know. 


We were nearly a month on Hatteras grounds, with good 
weather, on the whole. We spoke several merchant ves- 
sels, one of which was a big five-masted schooner bound 
into Charleston from Batavia. None of the men had seen 
such a big schooner-rigged vessel before, and they all 
gazed at her with their mouths hanging open as long as 
she was in sight. There was nothing beautiful about her 
with her stubby-looking masts and big sails. She would 
have made five of us easily, and the Clearchus was fairly 
big for a whaler. There was a smashing southwest breeze 
that day, and the schooner roared by us, close-hauled, 
with all lowers set and trimmed flat, carrying a big bone 
in her teeth, and spray flying over her, forward, with 
every sea. 

We were working well toward the southern edge of the 
grounds. Whales were scarce and shy. One wise old bull 
succeeded in inducing Mr. Baker and Mr. Tilton to keep 
after him for eight hours, gradually making to windward 
in a heavy sea, until he finally left them, giving a snort of 
derision as he went. I suppose he thought that, as it was 
about bedtime, he would call it a day. The men came back 
utterly beat out and disgusted 

When no whales had even been raised for a week the 
ship's head was again turned to the north for a last look 
before making to the eastward. We had taken but one 
whale. The morning after the change of course I heard 
Mr. Baker, who had that watch, come into the cabin and 
knock on the captain's door. In response to the captain's 
roar, he asked him to come on deck and see what we had 
with us. I heard Captain Nelson getting up — he was 
never very quiet about it, especially when he was in a 


hurry — and I bolted out, and up the stairs at Mr. 
Baker's heels, expecting to see something quite unusual, a 
whale of enormous size, perhaps, or a large shark at least, 
or perhaps an enormous squid. I think I was inclined to 
the squid, for I had always heard of it, but I had never 
come across anybody who had seen one, and I was anxious 
to see a great squid with my own eyes — and at a safe 

As soon as I reached the deck I looked all around and 
saw nothing unusual — no squid, at any rate. The sun 
was not yet up, and the waters were heaving in slow 
swells, although the surface was calm and there was 
hardly enough wind for steerage way. Deep silence was 
upon the sea, so that I heard it breathing — or it was as 
real as that. The watch stood about, or paced to and fro 
without a sound. The whole aspect was inexpressibly 
melancholy and desolate, and the silence seemed filled 
with evil. All the while the breathing of the sea went on, 
as each great roller caught up with us, and raised the ship 
to the top of its gentle slope, passed on from under us, 
dropping her into the valley. I sighed, in spite of myself, 
and I looked about even more carefully. There was noth- 
ing to be seen on the water except a topsail schooner quite 
near, and drifting along with us. 

I looked up at Mr. Baker, forgetting, for the moment, 
the pressing matter that had brought me on deck. I could 
think of nothing but that gentle breathing, like the sigh 
of some huge, invisible monster. 

" Can you hear it, Mr. Baker ? " I asked. 

Mr. Baker was an abrupt and rough-spoken man, 
though good-hearted and kind at bottom. He looked at me 
with a lively interest. 

" Hear it ! " he said. " Hear what ? " 

" Can you hear the sea breathing? I can sir.** 

He burst into a great roar of laughter, and I got as 
red as whale-meat. Mr. Baker had no imagination and I 


ought to have known better than to ask him. I did, but 
I forgot. 

His laughter stopped as abruptly as it had begun. 
" No, boy," he said. " Can't say as I do. What does it 
sound like ? " 

" I thought that it might be something, sir, that you 
called the captain to see — a big whale or a squid." 

" The great squid, eh ? " he asked, smiling. " And 
breathing, too. How big a squid did you hope to see? Big 
as a house ? " 

" Something like that, sir." 

" Big as a ship, with arms a hundred feet long, eh ? " 
He burst into another roar of laughter. " Been reading 
Melville ? You have n't, eh ? Well, there may be such 
squid, but I 've never seen any of 'em, and I 've never 
seen anybody who had. All the squid I 've seen were little 
fellows, a foot or two long, with arms not over nine or 
ten feet, although Banks fishermen have got 'em up to 
thirty foot, they say. No, I did n't call the captain for 
anything of the sort. You see that schooner over there, 
with yards at fore and main ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Well, that 's it. She 's the Annie Battles, and a very 
fast and able boat she is. Hails from Nantucket, Coffin, 
master. Maybe you '11 have a chance to see her again be- 
fore we get through, but just look at her lines, and then 
look at the lines of the Clearchus." 

So I looked carefully at the lines of the Annie Battles. 
She was long, almost as long as the Clearchus, I judged, 
but she gave the impression of being quite a little smaller, 
because of her very different model. She had an easy en- 
trance, easy, swelling lines, a full quarter and counter, 
but not too full. I could not see her beam, of course, from 
where we were, but it was evidently of that generous 
character which gives a vessel stability while not interfer- 
ing with her speed. Altogether, the Annie Battles would 


have been called at once powerful and able. That was the 
term that sprang at once to a sailor's lips — an able boat, 
a very able boat. I heard it from many, and it was the 
first thing they said. I cannot think of any form of praise 
that I would rather have had if I had been her designer; 
it means so much, speed, seaworthiness, ability to carry * 
sail with safety. It must have given Coffin, master, a great 
deal of sheer pleasure merely to contemplate his vessel, 
there was that beauty in her. 

She was rigged as a topsail schooner, with a topsail 
yard on each mast, a rig that I have not happened to see 
in any other instance. In fact, the Dobbin, a revenue cut- 
ter stationed at New Bedford a few years later, and the 
Eva are the only other topsail schooners I remember, and 
they had a topsail yard only on the foremast, according 
to my recollection. It was a very pretty rig, but was never 
much in fashion, and has gone out long ago. 

I was still looking at the Battles when I heard Cap- 
tain Nelson's step behind me. Mr. Baker and I were stand- 
ing under the gallows just forward of the mizzenmast. 
There is no whaleboat there, as a boat would interfere 
with the use of the gangway. I was at the rail, but Mr. 
Baker stood behind me, well in the shadow and the cap- 
tain stopped beside him. 

" Well, I 'm damned ! " he said in tones of utter dis- 
gust. Then he began to laugh. " I am damned ! " he said 
again. " How long's he been there, Mr. Baker ? " 

Mr. Baker shook his head. " He was there with the 
first streaks of daylight. I did n't see him come." 

Captain Nelson seemed to have got through with the 
Annie Battles. He stood gazing absently at the great, 
smooth swells rolling up on our starboard quarter, looked 
off at the horizon, as if he could see beyond it, and sniffed 
the air like a dog. At last he turned to Mr. Baker. 

" I don't like the look of these seas," he said. " The 
glass has n't begun to fall yet, but it will. Make the course 
southeast, Mr. Baker. We '11 get out of this." 


"As to these seas, Tim, here, says they breathe. He 
hears 'em." 

Captain Nelson glanced at me with a smile. " Does he ? 
Well, so they do, Tim. Could n't Mr. Baker hear it ? " 

" I don't know, sir. He did n't seem to, and I was n't 
very sure of it, but it seemed as if I did." 

" Be sure of what you see and hear, Tim," said the 
captain kindly. " You 're as likely to be right as another, 
as far as the evidence of your senses goes. It 's only in 
accounting for facts that a man of knowledge and ex- 
perience has the better of you." 

" Thank you, sir." 

Mr. Baker was giving orders that would bring the ship 
on her new course, and she soon began to wear slowly, for 
the gentle breath of air was from the southwest. We 
passed astern of the Annie Battles, which had got pretty 
far ahead by that time, but I could see that the men on 
her deck were surprised at our change of course. Captain 
Nelson was watching her, and presently a man came up 
her companionway, and stood on her deck looking at us. 
He was a large man, much larger than Captain Nelson. 
I could see nothing more than that and that he was active 
enough to be a young man. He raised his hand, but I could 
not tell whether he was shaking his fist or merely waving 
his hand in salutation. Captain Nelson chuckled and 
waved his hand. 

The Battles was jibing, and she was coming after us. 
Captain Nelson did not wait, but after giving another 
long look around, he went below. I followed, and pestered 
him, for I wanted to know what it was that he expected, 
and why he expected it. Of course I had no business to 
bother him about such matters at all, and he would have 
been quite right to tell me shortly to shut up, and many 
masters would. Captain Nelson never did that if he be- 
lieved that I was thirsting for information which it was 
quite proper for me to have. This occasion was no excep- 


tion, and he went to considerable pains to explain what 
he could, and what I could digest, about tropical hurri- 
canes, which are mosj; common about that season, espe- 
cially just about the place where we were. It was all in- 
tensely interesting to me, and I listened in complete ab- 
sorption, managing to remember most of what he told me. 

At that time there was a less general understanding of 
the fundamental principles of weather, even among good 
seamen, than there is now. For my own part, it has al- 
ways been difficult for me to remember instructions when 
they had to be memorized; but when I once have mas- 
tered principles my troubles are over. I do not have to 
search the stores of memory for a formula which fits the 
occasion, like a formula in chemistry, and I rarely go 

Captain Nelson had not got far into the subject when 
he interrupted himself. 

" Well, Tim," he said, " that 's enough for this time. 
Better be off about your business, and we '11 have another 
lesson before long. I want you to learn to navigate a ves- 

This was good news to me. I knew nothing whatever 
about navigation, or perhaps I should not have been so 
pleased. When Captain Nelson had given me some in- 
struction, and I plunged into Bowditch by myself, I found 
that I had plunged into deep water without knowing how 
to swim. I was not satisfied to do things in a superficial 
way, according to formula, without knowing what I was 
doing, or why, and at first I had a heartbreaking strug- 
gle with mathematics beyond my preparation for it. But I 
happened to discover, quite by accident, in the third mate, 
Mr. Brown, a man who knew all that mysterious coun- 
try — or those seas. Mr. Brown piloted me through those 
strange seas with considerable skill and great patience, so 
that I could attack my navigation with some satisfaction. 
But I am getting ahead of my story. 


Flocks of petrels, or Mother Carey's chickens, were 
about the ship by noon, with their curious habit of flight, 
as if walking on the water. By the middle of the after- 
noon the wind had come in from the eastward, and by 
dark it was blowing fresh, the wind heavy and wet and 
increasing. Sail was reduced to reefed topsails, and the 
Clearchus was put as close to the wind as she would go, 
making a course a little south of southeast. Sailing on a 
taut bowline was not one of the strong points of the 
Clearchus. She labored a great deal, the seas slapped up 
against her bluff bows, she made much fuss and compara- 
tively little headway, but considerable leeway. There was 
nothing to do, however, but to make everything snug, and 
to trust in Providence and the ship; and I turned in with 
no misgivings, and slept soundly. 

The weather got worse as the night wore on, and I sud- 
denly found myself sprawling on the floor. The ship was 
cutting up curious antics. I crawled on my hands and 
knees back to my bunk, but I could not go to sleep again, 
although I was sleepy. My bunk was on the weather side, 
and first I would be standing nearly on my feet, then 
nearly on my head, then perhaps she would quiver and 
go slowly over almost on her beam ends, so that I barely 
escaped being rolled on to the floor again. I heard the 
bell striking wildly — the tongue must have got loose — 
until somebody went and tied it up again, lashed it tight. 
It must have been two or three o'clock in the morning. 
She seemed to ease a little, sliding down the side of each 
sea until I thought she must be bound for the bottom of 
the ocean; then rising slowly, and struggling up the side 
of the next, until at last she reached the top. There she 
paused for what seemed to me, down there in my bunk, 
as much as an hour, and rolled to leeward, and I held on 
with all my might. 

I must have dropped off to sleep again, for the next 
thing I knew daylight was filtering in. The ship was 


keeping up her wild coasting down and slow struggles up- 
ward, and my muscles were sore and lame with holding 
on through my sleep.* 

Captain Nelson was on deck when I got there. He must 
have been there most of the night. Never in my life, be- 
fore or since, have I seen such seas. They were veritable 
mountains, with rugged sides, long and high. When we 
were in a valley we on the deck were sheltered from the 
worst of the wind, and the oncoming sea towered so above 
us that I wondered whether the ship would ever be able 
to climb that steep slope. She did somehow. The seas 
were so long that she rode them easily enough; with un- 
natural ease, it seemed to me. At last I discovered the ex- 
planation. They had put out oil bags during the night, 
bags of canvas stuffed with oakum and filled with oil. 
Two of these bags were fast, by lines long enough to let 
them trail in the water, to the ends of the spritsail yard, 
or spreader on the bowsprit, and one to each cathead. As 
they trailed in the water at the ends of their lines, the oil 
oozed slowly from them and formed a thin film over the 
water which prevented its breaking, so that the ship sailed 
in a little calm area of her own. This eased her wonder- 

The best course she could make was too much to the 
south to please Captain Nelson, and she was hardly doing 
more than lie to. Soon after I came up the foretopsail, 
close-reefed as it was, split from top to bottom, and in a 
very few minutes it was nothing but ribbons. The men had 
great trouble in getting in the remnants of the sail, but 
at last it was secured after a fashion, the strips wound 
about the yard like a bandage, and lashed. 

One storm is much like another, except in degree. This 
one reached its height just before noon, and wore off con- 
siderably toward night, although it still blew with gale 
force. The sea went down during the next day, the wind 
drawing to the westward. It was a dry, puffy wind, and 


the men got out their wet clothes and hung them on lines 
all about the ship, so that we must have looked like a 
laundry. We had got more sail on the ship, and with a 
fair wind she made pretty good speed for her. A pretty 
sight she must have been, rolling along under courses and 
maintopsail with garments of all hues and descriptions 
festooned about her. 

I went in search of Peter, and found him gazing toward 
the southeastern horizon. He paid me no attention until 
I spoke. 

" Is it you, lad ? " he said, giving me a smile. " I 
thought I saw something heaving atop of a sea. Then the 
sea went on, and let it down, and I lost it. There it is 
again, just atop of that big sea. It has the look of a cask 
or a barrel. Better run aft, Tim, and see what they make 
of it." 

I found Captain Nelson with his glass at his eye. 

" A barrel," he said to Mr. Baker, " and an oil barrel, 
and half full of oil, I should guess. And there 's other 
wreckage. Better run down that way." 

We changed our course to southeast, and in ten minutes 
or so we were running through all sorts of wreckage scat- 
tered over a mile or more of ocean : barrels, many of them 
full, and fragments of boats, and pieces of a deckhouse, 
and broken oars, and splinters of some vessel's rail, and 
other like evidence of destruction. They seemed worth 
further investigation, and we backed our main, while a 
boat was lowered. The boat came back without having 
been able to identify the vessel. There was no name on 
any of the fragments, and nothing which gave a clue; and 
although there were several barrels in sight, they seemed 
to be full of oil, and they floated awash, so that the name, 
if it was there, could not be seen without getting them 
out of the water. Mr. Baker suggested that, and made the 
further suggestion that they were full of oil anyway, and 
we would be killing two bird<? with one stone. He hated to 
gee that good oil bound for Davy Jones. 


Captain Nelson shook his head. It was near sr.nset, 
and the yards were braced around, and we filled off on 
our course again. We sailed through more scattered 
wreckage for half an flour, some fragment of the good 
ship here and there, broken out of her light upper works. 
It made us all silent, each man busy with his own 
thoughts. They might have been, with a few minutes' 
streak of bad luck, the fragments of the Clearchus which 
were scattered over those miles of ocean. I was thinking 
of this, and looking out ahead, when I saw what seemed 
to be a spar with a broken end rise on a sea, then vanish 
again. It glistened in the light of the setting sun, but I 
thought that I had made out the broken end clearly. 

I spoke of it, but the captain was already examining it 
through his glass. 

" I 've got it, Tim," he said. He put the glass down. 
" Two spars lashed together, and a man lashed to them. 
No sign of life in him, but we '11 pick him up and see." 

We ran down to him, pretty close. It was a crazy apol- 
ogy for a raft, merely two spars lashed together loosely. 
The man had been sitting on them with his legs, from the 
knees down, in the water. Now his body had fallen back- 
ward, and his head rested on the spars. In his hand he 
gripped a hatchet. What could he have wanted with a 
hatchet ? I asked the captain. 

Captain Nelson was looking at the man, but he turned 
to me for an instant. " Sharks, I 'm afraid, Tim," he said. 

Just then our boat got to him, and somebody cut the 
lashings, and they lifted him into the boat. His legs were 
terribly bitten by sharks, and one foot was gone. I turned 
away, sick and faint. 

It was dusk when they brought him aboard, still grip- 
ping his hatchet. He was breathing, but the life was aK 
most out of him. He was carried below, and they did 
what they could for him, and he was still alive when I 
turned in after writing what I considered a very solemn 


and arresting passage in my journal. I do not reproduce 
that passage. It seems like betraying the confidence of a 
well-meaning boy who seldom felt deeply on such matters, 
and still more seldom gave utterance to thoughts of the 
kind when he had them. To me it would seem much on 
the same order as publishing love-letters — to be ridi- 
culed. But the passage in my journal is funny, while it 
brings tears to my eyes as I remember my feelings as I 
wrote it. 

When I got on deck in the morning I saw the four 
Kanakas gathered about the sailmaker, who was just fin- 
ishing the job of sewing up a long bundle done up in a 
piece of old canvas. It was the body of the man we had 
rescued the evening before. He had died in the night 
without regaining consciousness. He was a Kanaka, but 
beyond that one evident fact we never knew who he was, 
or what ship he came from, for by the time we got back 
to New Bedford so many things had happened that the 
incident had slipped from our minds. Many things slip 
from the minds of sailors in that way, and are recalled 
only in the course of recounting some yarn, as I am doing. 

The four Kanakas were chanting an improvised song, 
the Admiral singing each verse, which he seemed to be 
making up as he went along, and the other three joining 
in the chorus. The singing was soft and seemed weird to 
me, for I had never before heard Kanaka singing. There 
were a great many verses, and the singing continued long 
after the sailmaker had got through and gone. Then the 
captain and other officers came, and the crew was mustered, 
and we all stood with uncovered heads while the captain 
read a very short service — or prayer, I don't know which 
— from a prayer book. The service took about a minute, 
and then they tipped up the plank and shot the body into 
the sea just as the sun was coming up out of it. I was at 
the rail, and I caught the red gleam of sunlight on the 
canvas as the bundle fell, making a crimson streak 


through the air; it struck the water, throwing the spray 
high, and disappeared from our sight, and it was as if 
that man had never been. The ceremony over, and the 
body, shrouded in canvas, plunging downward through the 
depths of ocean, the crew put on their hats or caps and 
went about their business, promptly forgetting the whole 
matter. But I have reason to believe that the sharks did 
not forget, and I doubt whether that bundle ever reached 

That afternoon we sighted a sail rising to the south- 
east. It had the look of a ship or a brig, for all we could 
see at first was the dim outline of square topsails; but 
presently the upper parts of her lower sails had risen 
from the sea, and they were fore-and-aft sails unmis- 
takably. There could be but one vessel which answered 
that description, and that was the Annie Battles. Captain 
Nelson showed a curious mixture of relief and disappoint- 
ment. He smiled and swore softly, and I was tempted to 
run and find Peter Bottom, but I did not. It was exactly 
what he had expected. 

I remember there was a flock of petrels near the ship 
at the time, and my attention was divided between watch- 
ing them and watching the Battles. She was running close- 
hauled, at which she was very good ; and she got abeam of 
us, and very near, before I noticed that she had a brand- 
new foretopmast. M{. Baker and the captain, of course, 
had seen it long before. Mr. Baker now turned to the 

" We got out of it," he said, " better than she did." 

Captain Nelson nodded. There was a big young fellow 
standing near the wheel of the Battles, and looking hard 
at us. Mr. Baker said it was Captain Coffin. I was sur- 
prised, for, except for his size, he looked too young to be 
captain of anything. He was as big as my father, and 
seemed much like him, pleasant and easy-going and com- 
petent. He waved his hand to Captain Nelson. 


" Just wanted to make sure you were all right," he 

Captain Nelson grinned. " Much obliged," he answered. 
" All shipshape. Did n't even lose a to'gallan'mast." 

Coffin laughed at that. " Nor a sail either, I suppose," 
he retorted, pointing at our topsail yard. Some of the 
crew were on it at that moment, bending a new foretop- 

Captain Nelson grinned again. " It was so old," he 
said, " that I thought I 'd better bend a new one." 

The Battles was shaking in the wind, and fell off on 
the other tack, and rounded under our stern. She shaved 
our stern so close that I could almost have reached out 
and grabbed the leach of her mainsail. She kept off with 
us on our course, but she was sailing nearly two feet to 
our one, and she drew ahead rapidly. 

Before she had sailed our length Captain Coffin hailed 

" Where 'you bound now ? " 

Captain Nelson waved his hand vaguely. " Oh, to the 
east'ard," he said, " to the east'ard." 

" Western grounds, I suppose. We '11 be waiting for 


The first observation that the captain was able to take 
showed us to be in latitude 27° N., which was much far- 
ther south than he had any idea of. I was present when 
he worked out our position; I was supposed to be having 
a lesson in navigation, but I had no notion what he was 
doing, nor why. I remember that he could not believe it, 
and thought that he must have made a mistake, but a sec- 
ond observation confirmed the first, and I marked our po- 
sition on the chart. I knew enough for that. That made 
our course northeast. Captain Nelson went on deck to give 
the new course, and left me alone with Bowditch. I strug- 
gled along for a few minutes, but I might as well have 
been blind for all the good I got out of the book. I thought 
I might as well be out in the sunshine, so I put the book 
under my arm, and went on deck. 

Mr. Brown happened upon me as I sat on a coil of 
rope with the open book on my knee. It is not likely that 
I was even trying to read, but I was probably gazing out 
over the ocean, which I could just see at every roll of the 
ship, or up at the sky. He stooped and saw what I was 
at, and he smiled, and asked me how I was getting along. 
When I confessed that I was not getting along at all, he 
offered to help me, and I accepted gratefully. He could 
not help me then, for he was on duty; but later on he 
gave me my first idea of trigonometry. That was the be- 
ginning of my studies with Mr. Brown. He was an excel- 
lent teacher, and I was anxious to learn, which makes all 
the difference in the world. 

It was four or five days later that we ran into the edge 
of the Sargasso Sea. We should have been clear of it by 
good rights, but the edge of the weed had been shifted 


into what should have heen clear ocean, possibly by the 
very storm that we had come through. I knew, of course, 
that it must be the Sargasso Sea. I had read about it in 
my geography without much interest, and the teacher had 
not seemed much more interested than I, or to know 
much more about it. 

The idea that I had formed was of a close-packed mass 
of seaweed, through which a ship could no more force her 
way than she could through an enormous haystack. The 
real thing is very different. I have never been any closer 
to the middle than I was that day in the Clearchus, and 
so I do not know, from the evidence of my own senses, 
how closely packed the weed may be; but it is not like 
a stack of hay at all. It consists of separate plants, or 
pieces of a plant, not above a foot across, every plant 
floating by itself. A ship would probably have no great 
trouble in going through what looked like a solid mass of 
floating weed, each separate plant giving to her passage 
with but little more resistance than the water. 

Peter got a bucketful of water, with a plant bearing its 
strange freight of life : crabs, sea-horses, pipe-fish, shrimp, 
and slugs. 

" Aye, Timmie," he said as he dropped the bucket over 
the side, " it 's sargasso, and that means seaweed in some 
outlandish lingo. Why they can't say seaweed when they 
mean seaweed is beyond me. I 've seen it many a time." 

That bucket of water led to a fresh dislike of Mr. Wal- 
let. I had made a hasty examination of it while all hands 
gathered around me. As soon as I could I grabbed up the 
bucket and ran aft with it, the water slopping over my 
legs as I ran. I wanted to study those strange beings at 
my leisure. 

Suddenly remembering duties which, as was quite 
customary with me, I had forgotten in my interest in 
other things, I left my precious bucket at the head of the 
cabin steps, and dashed down to attend to them before 

118 SHE BL0WS1 

anybody found out. The cabin stairs were very steep and 
narrow, and I ran plump into Mr. Wallet — actually col- 
lided with him, and. bounced off, eliciting a grunt and a 
curse. I picked myself up, and he paid no more attention 
to me, but went on up; and I heard him stumble at the 
top, and curse again, violently. I chuckled, and thought 
no more about it; but when I went for my bucket again, I 
could not find it. Mr. Wallet, coming up, had stumbled 
over it, and had been angry, and forthwith had emptied 
it over the side. I would have done him an injury if I 
could, and I hoped he might run foul of a fighting bull 
whale. That was the worst thing I could think of. 

I was so provoked with Mr. Wallet about the loss of 
that bucket of water that I pretended not to hear him 
when he spoke to me as I ran to the forecastle to find 
Peter. He was most probably only going to give me a 
reprimand — which I deserved — for leaving the bucket 
where I did, and when I seemed not to hear him, he did 
not follow me up. As I ran forward I looked over the 
expanse of water which glittered in the sun under the 
brisk southerly breeze, but I saw no patches of weed. As 
it turned out I did not get another bucket of weed with 
its strange freight of life, for we had run clear of it. 
Never in my life have I been able to get another head of 
sargasso-weed. That was another grudge I bore Mr. Wal- 
let, and still bear him. His feelings toward me were none 
too friendly. 

I plunged below to find Peter Bottom and pour out my 
grievances. I found him busy, but he stopped his work — 
I did not even glance at it — and covered it with his hand, 
and listened until I had emptied my heart. When at last I 
had come to a hesitating stop he looked up with a twinkle 
in his eyes. 

" Now you 've got it all out, Timmie," he said, " you 
feel better, I '11 warrant." 

I did feel better, and not so angry as I had been. But 


that means nothing. I have always been like that, with a 
hot heart that cools rapidly, leaving hardly enough re- 
sentment for self-respect. I knew it even then for a fault. 
I hold that anything that is worth such hot anger as I felt 
demands the keeping of a cold resentment long enough to 
do some good. A man of any stability would do that, or 
he would not get so angry. Captain Nelson was a man of 
stability, and I was already beginning to think Mr. Brown 
even more so. Mr. Baker was an ignorant man, except in 
one line, and he was hot-tempered and hard; Mr. Tilton 
was even more ignorant, although even-tempered enough, 
quick in decision in matters which he knew about, and 
vigorous in action; but both Mr. Baker and Mr. Tilton 
were men of stability. Mr. Snow was regarded as a little 
busybody; but nowhere was there a good word for Mr. 
Wallet. His ignorance was stupendous, his talent for fail- 
ure was great, no dependence could be placed on him in 
any kind of a pinch, and he had not the courage of a 
sheep. It was more or less of a mystery how he got his 
second mate's berth, and a still greater mystery how he 
held it. 

" That second mate 's not worth getting mad at," Peter 
said, " and he '11 get his deserts sooner or later. They 
'most always do. Now look. I told you I had something 
to show you, and here it is." 

With that he lifted his hand from the small thing it 
covered, which was of ivory, one of the larger teeth of 
our only whale. This thing of Peter's was already plainly 
a model of the hull of the Clearchus, although there had 
not been time to do more than roughly shape it. Even 
with the largest tooth used for it, the model was on a 
very small scale, only about five and a half inches long. 

I forgot entirely my grievance against the second mate, 
and could only look at it longingly, as a dog eyes a bone, 
licking my chops. 

Peter laughed to see me. " Do you know what it is to 
be, then ? " 


" Anybody would know that. It will be beautiful, Peter. 
Do — do you suppose I '11 ever be able to do anything 
like that ? " 

" You 're able to do something like that now. It 's noth- 
ing now, but you wait till I have it farther along. I have 
to shape it a bit more to make it a true copy — and it 's 
going to be a true copy, Timmie — and then I '11 cut the 
deck down to show the rail. Every plank, chain plate, and 
bolt that shows on the outside of the ship is going to show 
on this model. Then I have to build the deckhouses out of 
plates of ivory scraped thin, and build the try-works, and 
step ivory masts, and rig her with ivory spars and ivory 
sails scraped thin as paper. And there 's to be ivory 
blocks, and the rigging 's to be silk thread. It '11 be quite 
proper, and scraped and polished till it shines. I have it 
in my mind, and it grows as I get on. Aye, it '11 be quite 

It was quite proper. As I raise my eyes to the mantel, 
there sits the dainty model now. Much of the rigging of 
silk thread is rotten and brittle, and breaks at a touch; 
but the rest of Peter's handiwork is of more enduring 
stuff, although yellow with age. It makes me positively 
homesick to see the very decks that I trod, the wheel un- 
der its roof and the rail at the stern upon which I had 
leaned so many times, looking over the sluggish wake, the 
gangway with the cutting-stage in place, the great blocks 
of the cutting-tackles, the try-works with the bench 
against its after side; every detail of the ship and its fit- 
tings reproduced, even to the boats lashed to their stiff 
davits, the cranes swung out for them to rest upon, and 
little harpoons and lances and spades in place. The paper- 
thin, translucent ivory sails still hang from their ivory 
yards and belly with the breeze. It makes me homesick, 
I say, and makes that time — it was a happy time, on the 
whole — it makes that time even more real than does my 
journal, which lies before me. At the time when I first 


saw that model, however, rough as it then was, I could 
only gape and smile, and I said nothing coherent, I think. 

The teeth that were used for scrimshawing — and for 
many other purposes, for on some of the islands of the 
South Seas whales' teeth had a high value — the teeth 
were salvaged by the crew after the cutting-in and trying- 
out were over. I have described the cutting off of the 
lower jaw, and getting it on deck, where it was put at one 
side, out of the way, until the more serious business of 
trying-out the oil and getting it below decks was over. 
One jaw is much like another; that is, unless it happens 
to be deformed, and deformed jaws are more frequently 
seen than one would believe. We got two, and one of them 
was so badly deformed that the tip of the jaw was curled 
tightly around twice, making a tight spiral. It has always 
been a mystery to me how a whale could get a living with 
a jaw like that, but they seem to have no difficulty in do- 
ing so. Both of our whales with freak jaws were in ex- 
cellent condition. Deformation of the jaws is supposed to 
be due to the whales' fighting among themselves. I know 
of no first-hand information on that point, but the bull 
whales certainly fight viciously on occasion. A deformed 
jaw, however, is usually cleaned and kept for museum 

Extracting the teeth is generally an occasion for hilar- 
ity among the crew. You will see the hinge of the great 
jaw at the yardarm, and a giggling, shouting mob, armed 
with spades and saws, about its lower end, which is on 
the deck. A whip tackle is also on the yard, its lower 
end brought down to the deck. Then they fall to with 
their spades, cutting the flesh away from the lower part 
of the tooth and loosening it, and completing the ex- 
traction by main strength, very much after the fashion 
of a dentist, but by means of the falls instead of for- 
ceps. Often the loop slips off of the tooth suddenly, 
letting down the men who are swaying away on the falls, 


and starting shouts of laughter. Or the whole strip of 
teeth may come together, held together by the gums. 
When the teeth have* all been drawn the jaw is sawed 
into slabs for convenient use, for the jawbone is very 
hard and close-grained. 

I was to have a share of the teeth obtained in this way. 
Peter must have known what I wanted, for he produced 
a slab sawed from a tooth, and started me at once on an 
ivory spoon, on which I was busy for several days, in 
my spare time, and in much time that was not spare. 
Your whaleman gets so interested in his scrimshawing 
very often, that he neglects his duties. I was no exception. 
The spoon was intended for my mother. When that was 
done, I began an elaborate pie-marker, a jagging- wheel, 
also intended for my mother, and changed the destination 
of the spoon to my father. The pie-marker consisted of a 
wheel, the edge of which was to be cut in very intricate 
convolutions, turning in an ivory handle. I planned this 
handle in the figure of a sperm whale holding the wheel 
between his jaws, and I meant to carve him within an inch 
of his life. Peter did not discourage me, probably thinking 
that my plan was as good as another for giving me prac- 
tice. I did carve him within an inch of his life, or within 
rather less than that; but I was not satisfied with the re- 
sult, and tried to improve it, " improving " it several times, 
and at last producing a very lean and skinny whale. I did 
not dare to make further improvements, although the whale 
seemed very much out of health. The carving of the wheel, 
too, left something to be desired, and the convolutions 
were less intricate than I hoped for. Peter comforted me 
somewhat with the observation that it would be easier to 
clean, and that if I had made it as I had planned, it would 
have cut out a great many little pieces of dough, which 
would infallibly have got stuck in it, and which my mother 
would have had to pick out with a sharp knife or a wire 
— or perhaps a hairpin. That was Peter's little joke, 



not mine. My mother must have liked her pie-marker, 
crude as it was, for she used it as long as she lived, and 
kept it hanging from a hook in the edge of the kitchen 
shelf, within reach of her hand. She never had to use a 
hair-pin on it. 

We had unbroken good weather, with variable winds, 
mostly southerly or easterly during the first part of the 
passage, and westerly and northerly during the last part, 
but always of good strength. One morning, I remember, 
there was a great school of porpoises playing about the 
ship. They seemed even more antic than usual, leaping 
and diving and playing tag, and otherwise showing their 
contempt for a vessel which could not go any faster than 
the Clearchus 

Their cavortings were too much for Aziel Wright, 
George Hall, and Miller, three of the boatsteerers. They 
easily got permission, and Hall was first with a porpoise- 
iron, and was getting out on the jibboom. Miller got down 
into the forechains, Wright staying on deck. Hall and 
Miller got their porpoises, and then more, until there 
were half a dozen thumping the deck. The whole crew 
had gathered, and the men laid hold of the line when a 
porpoise was struck, and hauled him on deck by main 

Then they killed them. It seemed to me a horrid job, 
but I watched it, as boys will watch horrid jobs; in the 
same spirit which used to prompt me to go occasionally 
to John Green's slaughter-house, and see steers felled 
with a sledge, and have their throats ripped up with a 
sharp knife as you would rip up an old boot leg. They 
used to kill sheep there in what seemed to me a particu- 
larly brutal manner, and I have seen the men step up 
nonchalantly to a calf hung by its bound hind legs, seize 
it by the nose, and cut its head off, without a sound of re- 
monstrance from the calf. These methods were quite usual 
at the time. Boys are queer little savages. 


We had porpoise-steak for two or three days after that, 
and then hash. Porpoise-steak tastes pretty good to a man 
who has been nearly ..two months without fresh meat. A 
porpoise is really a small whale, and is roughly about the 
size of a swordfish. There must be comparatively few 
people who have not seen porpoises. The meat is much 
like whale-meat, but more tender and better flavored. 

A fine oil is extracted from the porpoise, the best com- 
ing from the jaw. The porpoise jaw-oil is used for chro- 
nometers and watches. Mr. Baker thought we might as 
well get everything the porpoises had to give, and he had 
the blubber tried out, and the jaw-oil. There was a small 
quantity of jaw-oil, to which we added later. 


In 1872 the sperm whale had almost disappeared from 
the Atlantic Ocean, and old whalemen thought that he 
was doomed to practical extinction. For twenty years or 
more sperm-whaling voyages had been lengthened to an 
average of nearly four years, and it had been necessary 
to hunt him over all the tropic and temperate seas of the 
world. I had reason to believe that Captain Nelson had 
not really expected to find any whales on the Hatteras 
grounds, and I know that he expected to find none on the 
Western grounds. Besides, it was late in the season by 
the time we reached the Western grounds, and it was 
likely that the whales would have disappeared, if they 
had been there at all. The mastheads were kept manned, 
however, as they were pretty generally. 

We were rolling along easily in a light westerly breeze 
when Alexander, a Kanaka from Mr. Tilton's boat, 
sounded his falsetto cry from the foremasthead. It was 
early in the forenoon, and I was busy below; but I heard 
the quick patter of feet on deck, and I knew what it 
meant. So I dropped everything just where I stood, and 
ran up. I happened to see the spout at once, a beautiful, 
light, feathery thing in the bright sunlight, more like the 
drooping ostrich plume than ever. There was but the one 
spout, repeated lazily at intervals, although the others of 
the pod, if there were others, might have sounded, and be 
feeding. The volume of the spout and the force with 
which it was expelled, as well as the interval between 
spouts, indicated a full-grown bull. 

The whale had been sighted off the port bow, and was 
now nearly abeam of us, going slowly to the westward, 
and making a course which took him nearer to the ship as 


he went on. Mr. Brown was already away, with the light 
westerly breeze abeam, to head him off. Mr. Wallet, as 
usual, was some minutes longer in getting his sail up, and 
in getting under way. He headed still more to the west- 
ward. We began to wear ship, and to change our course 
to follow them. 

The boats went on, getting nearer the course of the 
whale, which continued to swim with great deliberation. 
He seemed to be bent upon getting nowhere in particu- 
lar, and likely to achieve his purpose. By the time the 
ship had got on her new course Mr. Brown had already 
taken in his sail and got his mast down, and the men were 
paddling until the whale should discover them. Mr. Wal- 
let should have done the same thing. He was near enough ; 
but he delayed, as he did invariably, a little too long. 
Just after he had given the order, and while his men were 
busy with the mast, — they had made a little more noise 
than necessary, perhaps, — the whale saw them, no 
doubt imperfectly. He hesitated for an instant, then 
raised his flukes and lobtailed, the blow on the water 
making a noise which sounded, to us on the ship, like the 
report of a big gun, and raised a cataract of spray and 
green water. This drenched the men in Mr. Brown's boat, 
who had paddled up on him from behind and were trying 
to get into position to sink their irons just behind the 
side fin. Wright was standing in the bow, a harpoon in his 
hands, and the boat was just even with the flukes. I saw 
the men suddenly give way hard — they had no time to 
change to their oars ; then the whale started for Mr. Wal- 
let's boat, and Wright let go both his irons, getting both 
fast, but well back toward the small instead of near the 
side fin, where he had hoped to place them. 

The sting of the irons only served to make him the 
more furious and bent upon destruction, and he rushed 
full-tilt upon Mr. Wallet. Mr. Brown dropped back, the 
men put aside their paddles, and I saw two or three turns 


taken about the loggerhead. Then Wright came aft, and 
Mr. Brown took his place in the bow, with a lance in his 
hand. A thin wreath of blue smoke rose from the logger- 
head, although they were throwing water upon the line. 
Wright took another turn, and the boat plunged wildly 
through the sea after the whale. 

The whale seemed to be annoyed by the drag of the 
boat all on one side of him. I thought I saw him gnash 
his jaws, although they were kicking up such a fuss that 
I could not be sure. The ship was less than half a mile 
away, and the ship and the whale were slowly working 
nearer each other. It must have been the drag of the boat 
which caused the whale to miss Mr. Wallet's boat, which 
he did by a very narrow margin, coming up for the attack 
about an oar's length from the starboard side, and abeam. 
That seemed to put him beside himself with fury, and he 
turned at once upon Mr. Brown, shaking his head and 
gnashing his jaws. As he turned, George Hall saw his 
chance and planted his irons deep in his other side. If 
Mr. Wallet had been of the quality of Hall or of some 
others of his men, he would have done uniformly better. 

Hall's irons served to confuse the whale a little, al- 
though not to shake his purpose of destroying Mr. Brown's 
boat. He hesitated for an instant, but immediately went 
on, and disappeared a short distance from the boat. He 
had not sounded, however, which could be told from the 
way Mr. Wallet's line was going out. Hall had changed 
places with Mr. Wallet, and had three or four turns around 
the loggerhead, although not enough to check the line en- 
tirely. I saw the men in Mr. Brown's boat back water as 
hard as they could, and the next instant the whale's huge 
head shot out of the water just ahead of the boat, the 
jaws gnashing. The lower jaw seemed to be crumpled up 
at the tip. He just missed the boat completely, but got the 
whale line between his jaws, and chewed it, getting a tooth 
through it, as I found out later, and fraying the line badly. 


He came up out of the water so far that his side fin 
showed, and the ends of Hall's harpoons, and Mr. Brown 
seized that moment^ to lance him. He got in two thrusts 
with the lance, and when he withdrew it, its shank was 
bent almost at right angles. He did not stop to straighten 
it, but seized another, which, however, he had no chance 
to use. 

As the whale went on, Mr. Brown's line slipped off his 
tooth. The teeth of the sperm whale are roughly conical 
in shape, and curved slightly backward, with a consider- 
able space between them; and there are no teeth in the 
upper jaw. This will account for the fact that the line 
was not bitten in two at once. The lines were crossed, too, 
for Wright's harpoons were in the left side of the whale, 
while the boat from which they had come was now on his 
right side; and Mr. Wallet's boat had been on his right 
side when Hall planted his irons, but was now behind 
him and well to his left. Both lines had slipped over his 
back. Mr. Brown's men had been unable to take in the 
slack of their line as fast as the whale had come, and by 
some mischance the whale had got a turn around his jaw. 
By a further mischance, the whale turned again in the 
same direction, twisting the lines over his back, and 
going over Mr. Wallet's line this time. He was pretty 
well tangled in the lines, and Mr. Wallet's was wrapped 
about his body once. Mr. Brown's men were heaving in 
on their line as fast as they could, and when, in the 
whale's frantic career, it suddenly came taut, it gripped 
his jaw like an Indian halter. This seemed to throw him 
into a frenzy. He stopped, lobtailed several times, as 
rapidly as such a huge mechanism can, lashing the water 
into foam, and caught sight of the ship, not a quarter of a 
mile away. Before either of the boats could haul up on 
him, he had started for her at full speed. Mr. Brown's 
line parted at the frayed spot; and before the whale had 
gone very far, Mr. Wallet reached down to the hatchet at 
his knees, raised it above his head, and cut. 


What impelled Mr. Wallet to cut I do not know. Very 
probably he was simply afraid — panic-struck; although 
cutting loose from a fighting whale, vicious and fren- 
zied, and bent upon the destruction of the boats, is per- 
haps not uncommon. But this whale, although vicious 
and frenzied, had done no harm to the boats, so far, and 
cutting did not seem justified. It seemed even less justi- 
fied to the officers and men than it did to me. As Peter 
told me, in confidence, he thought there must be some- 
thing wrong with that whale's sight or sense of direction, 
for he had missed his aim every time; missed by a little, 
but he had missed. It was not necessary for him to say 
what he thought of our second mate for cutting. I knew 
well enough. 

The whale's very obvious intention was to ram us, and 
we knew what the consequences might be. The wheel was 
thrown hard over, and two of the officers ran below. I 
have said that the old Clearchus was slow in minding 
her helm, but she never seemed so slow as she did on that 
occasion. Mr. Tilton and Mr. Baker had taken the two 
bomb guns, which the men had brought up from below, 
before the ship had changed her course five degrees. She 
went a little faster after that, but her course was not 
changed many degrees when the whale was upon us. The 
two bomb lances were fired over the quarter when he 
was less than half a dozen fathoms away. They must have 
made a tremendous commotion in the interior of the whale, 
for I could see him shiver, but he did not stop swimming 
immediately, although there was no power in his move- 
ments. He came on, and struck the ship a glancing blow 
on the quarter which shook her from keel to trucks, and I 
thought the foretopgallantmast would come down. The 
Admiral, up there in the hoops, was shaken about like a 
pea in a box. 

After the blow, the whale stopped swimming, and 
rested quietly just astern of the ship — except for his 


shivering. It was then that Peter remarktri to me on his 
defective sight, and observed further that if he had had a 
grain of sense, he irould have taken the chance of Mr. 
Wallet's cutting to get clean away, which he might have 
done perfectly well. Then Mr. Baker, thinking to put a 
quick end to him, I suppose, fired another bomb lance 
into him. This had just the opposite effect. The whale 
stirred — no doubt he would have roared if that were 
customary with whales — and turned, and made for the 

He missed again, but passed between them with open 
jaws, so close to Mr. Wallet's boat that he gathered in 
and crushed to splinters both oars on the port side, and 
almost swamped the boat with the wave he made. Mr. 
Brown was a little astern of Mr. Wallet, and as the whale 
passed him, he gave a deep thrust with the lance. He had 
no time to withdraw it, although he tried to, and bent the 
shank of the lance in his attempt. 

That was not the end of misfortune. The frayed end 
of line from Mr. Brown's boat was not completely hauled 
in, and there were some fathoms still hanging down 
from the bow. The whale caught this frayed end between 
his jaws as he passed, and worried it as a terrier does a 
string. The effect was the same as if it had still been fast 
to the iron in his body. The line tautened instantly, and 
whirled the bow around, and then, as no attention was 
being given to the loggerhead end of a frayed line with a 
few fathoms over the bow, it began to snake out of its tub. 
I do not know how it happened — nobody knew — but 
Wright somehow got a kink in the line around his leg, and 
was snaked the length of the boat, kicking three men in the 
head on his meteoric course and out at the bow. Mr. Brown 
and Wright had been in the habit of doing without the 
kicking-strap. I have explained the kicking-strap. It is 
a piece of heavy line which extends loosely along the 
top of the clumsy cleat, and has its ends knotted under. 


The whale line passes under it on its way to the groove 
in the stem.. There was nothing, therefore, to stop Wright 
except the frail peg in the stem, and breaking the peg was 
nothing to him. He disappeared overboard. 

Everybody in the boat had given him up when, sud- 
denly, the line went slack, and Wright shot to the surface. 
He had somehow managed to whip out his knife and cut 
the line. They got him aboard the boat at once. It was 
very nearly the end of poor Wright. He was in great pain 
and almost done, his hip dislocated, although no bones 
were broken. 

That was about the end of the whale. He went on for a 
little way, enveloped by the twisting lines. Then he 
stopped, shivered once more, and went into his flurry, 
spouting thick, black blood. That flurry, as I think of it 
now, could not have been pleasant to see, but I do not re- 
member that it aroused any disgust in me at the time. 
It was not far from the ship, and I can only recollect a 
consuming curiosity, on my part, to see him die, and 
how he did it. It could not have differed very much, ex- 
cept in the size of the beast, from the scenes at John 
Green's slaughter-house. 

When the whale was alongside, and the cutting-in was 
under way, we found that one eye was sightless and al- 
most gone. This may have been due to fighting, as the 
twisted jaw was supposed to be due to that cause. I ex- 
amined the jaw carefully when it was on deck, as did 
most of the crew. The tip of the jaw was bent sidewise, 
about two feet of it. It was a mystery to me, and ever 
since has remained a mystery, how the jawbone of a full- 
grown whale could be so bent. I could understand how it 
might be broken, but to be bent as this was, or to be curled 
around in a spiral, as was the case in our later specimen, 
it seemed to me that it would have had to be done while 
the whale was young, and the bone soft and cartilaginous. 
I could not imagine whales of that tender age fighting 


fiercely enough to bend a jaw or put out an eye, and I 
should be convinced — as to the bending of the jaw — 
only by actually seeing the jaw of a whale bent in a fight 
with another' whale. It might be sufficient if I heard of 
such an occurrence from a man in whose powers of obser- 
vation and in whose veracity I had absolute confidence; 
but who would believe the yarn of the average whale- 
man? Whalemen are notoriously inaccurate observers, 

This whale was an old one, rather old for a whale, al- 
though by no means decrepit. What that means in years 
of life I do not know. The natural life of a whale, bar- 
ring accidents, would be expected to be of the same order 
as the life of an elephant, which is popularly believed to 
live to a great age, from one hundred to three hundred 
years. I should think that a whale three hundred years 
old would yield little oil; and this whale of ours made 
nearly sixty barrels. 

Poor Wright! We had no surgeon, of course, better 
than the captain and Mr. Wallet. Wallet was a whale- 
surgeon. Wright was in great pain for over a week, until 
we got into Fayal, and his thigh swelled to great size. I 
used to hear him groaning at night in a subdued fashion. 


We sighted no more whales, and made for the Azores as 
fast as the old Clearchus would go, which was not at a 
dizzying speed. Wright was in such distress that the old 
man was anxious to get him ashore as soon as possible. 
He intended to call at Fayal, anyway. In addition to 
Wright's necessities, there was some slight refitting to be 
attended to, he wanted another spare whaleboat, some 
oars, provisions, and other small matters. He expected 
to meet the tender there, too. The tender of the whaling 
fleet was a schooner, not what would be called fast, but 
faster than any whaler. She would take home the little 
oil we had, would have letters written since we left, and 
would take whatever letters we had to send. I wrote up 
my journal fully, and wrote letters to my father and 
my mother. I did not seal these, but left them to be added 
to at the last minute. 

That whale led indirectly to an adventure of my own. 
I have spoken of the practical joke which a green hand 
tried to play on Black Tony, " The Prince," as we all 
called him. The green hand was Lupo, a Portuguese who 
pulled midship oar in Mr. Brown's boat, in which the 
Prince had the bow oar. I do not know the real cause of 
the attempt, and it is not important, but probably jeal- 
ousy wag at the bottom of it. There was real malice in it, 
although Lupo meant that it should pass for a joke. It 
happened just at twilight. I did not see the whole of it, 
only the Prince standing on the rail, the sharp spade in 
his hand instinctively raised to strike, his head up, the 
most utter contempt in his gaze, as he looked down at 
Lupo from under half-closed eyelids. He reminded me of 
a tiger, and very probably he reminded Lupo of one, too. 


Lupo was paralyzed with fear. The Prince smiled slowly 
and contemptuously, and slowly lowered the spade, but 
said nothing, and Lupo moved. He passed near me — I 
was in the shadow of the foremast — muttering curses 
and threats as he went. 

After that I was on the watch for them both, and 
about an hour later I saw them. The Prince seemed to 
have forgotten Lupo's existence, but I had not, and I kept 
in the shadow and watched him closely, as he edged nearer 
and nearer to the place where the Prince was working. We 
were trying-out, and everybody was busy. Lupo himself 
was supposed to be busy. He kept one hand back by his 
hip — on a knife, as it turned out — and in the other 
hand he carried either a mincing-knife or a boarding- 
knife. The light was too poor and uncertain for me to be 
sure which it was, but either was a formidable weapon. 
I remember just the feeling I had at the roots of my hair, 
and the prickling all over my body, and the way I smiled, 
for I found myself about to leap on him. I did not make 
up my mind to do it, I simply found that I was going to 
do it, and I was filled with an exaltation of joy at the 
knowledge. Call it what you will and explain it how you 
may, it was pure joy of a kind that I have known many 
times since, but never equal to that first time. 

Well — I leaped just as he was raising his weapon, 
whatever it was, and as I leaped I gave a little nervous 
laugh of excitement. He had not seen me, and he was 
startled, and dropped his weapon, which clattered on the 
deck. I seized him about the body, pinning his elbows to 
his sides ; but he was larger and stronger than I was, and 
partially freed them. I felt a warm sting in my hip, and 
knew that he had used his knife. Then I got thoroughly 
mad. When I was in that condition I felt nothing, blows, 
knife thrusts, or anything else. It is a curious phenome- 
non, and I suppose nqjb peculiar to myself, that in such a 
situation, when my rage is once completely aroused — it 


never took much to rouse it — I seemed to lose all sense of 
pain, all feeling. It was always so with me, even as a very 
small boy. I attacked Lupo in a fury with hands and feet 
and teeth. What he did to me I did not know. 

The fight did not last long. Suddenly he went down; 
inexplicably to me until my vision cleared, and I saw Lupo 
lying at full length on the deck, and the Prince stooping 
over him, holding a mincing-knife at his throat like the 
knife of a guillotine. I fully expected to see him beheaded 
on the instant. I wanted to see his head roll away, and 
blood spurting from his neck. 

" You move, " whispered the Prince, " and — ** 

Lupo heard the whisper, and he did not move, for the 
edge of the knife was in contact with his throat. Then 
others came, and the Prince rose to his feet, laid down his 
mincing-knife quietly, and came and stood by me, while 
Lupo was led away. 

" You hurt, Tim ? " asked the Prince. " He knife you ? " 

I laughed a little nervously. The sense of feeling had 
not come back completely. 

" I guess so/' I answered, " but I don't feel it." 

*' Le's see," he said. He took up a lantern and looked 
me over. Lupo's knife had found only certain soft portions 
of my anatomy, and those far from any vital part. 

The Prince laughed. " I see. All right. No harm, but 
you not sit down much for a while. Better go to the old 
man and get fixed up, though. Good boy, Tim ! Great boy ! 
You make good fight. Tony won't forget. He won't forget." 

All this time he was patting my shoulder. Then, as I did 
not move, he led me aft, keeping his hand on my shoulder. 

" Now go below," he said, giving me a gentle push 
toward the cabin stairs. 

I found Captain Nelson there, sitting at the cabin 
table. The row on deck had been noiseless, and he had 
not been disturbed. He fixed me up with some simple 


" It '11 bleed a few minutes," he said. " Let it. Now 
tell me the whole story. Been in a fight, have you? " 

I told him the whole story, and he made no comment 
whatever, although I was expecting something, whether 
praise or blame I did not know. I never felt sure how he 
would take any of my exploits. But he said nothing, and 
I bade him good-night, and went to turn in. I did not go 
to sleep immediately. My wounds gave me no pain what- 
ever, but I was still in a condition of excitement. 

In the morning, however, I was so sore and lame that I 
dressed with difficulty. We were under way again, and 
Wright was no worse, although he certainly was no better. 
He told me that they had Lupo in irons, and that they 
would hand him over to the consul in Fayal, who would 
want my story again. This piece of information elated 
me, while filling me with apprehension and nervousness. 
I must be sure that I had my story straight, and I wrote 
it out at once, while it was all fresh in my mind. 

Later in that day I was studying trigonometry, and 
found myself beyond my depth, when Mr. Brown came 
along. I was immersed in mathematics, and thinking of 
nothing but spherical angles. He stood for a few minutes, 
watching me, and half smiling to himself. 

" Tim," he said at last. 

I looked up, startled at his abruptness. 

"Yes, sir?" 

" I guess that you had no intention of getting in that 
fight, but suddenly found yourself in it. Is n't that so ? " 

" Well — yes, sir." I did not like to tell him of my joy 
in it, or of my blind fury, but he must have guessed that 

" I 'm afraid you like to fight." 

" Well — I did n't know that I liked it, sir." 

"It 's right that you should like it, in a good cause, but 
you '11 have to be on your guard. I like it — or I used to 
— and it let me in for these. " 

MR. BROWN 137 

With that he opened his shirt, and showed me three 
old scars almost over his heart. I gaped at them. 

"Just escaped with my life," he added, smiling again. 
" My ribs stopped it. And I have other scars. And the 
cause was n't good. I show you these only to let you know 
that I know what I am talking about. Be on your guard, 

I was still gaping up at him. " Where? " I asked. 

" Batavia, " he answered shortly, " years ago. I had 
got down pretty far. I don't want you to. Now let 's see 
what bothers you." 

So we took up that question of angles. I had forgotten 

When we had finished our session, I went on deck. It 
was nearly five o'clock, or two bells. The breeze had 
lightened, and the old ship lumbered along lazily, pitch- 
ing slowly in the swells, and now and then throwing 
sheets of spray from her forefoot when a sea chanced 
to break with it. I could not see it, but I could hear it. I 
stood behind the steersman, and I forgot Batavia and Mr. 
Brown as I looked out astern over our slowly seething 
wake in a golden ocean, with crimson lights, and with 
shadows of dark green and blue in the seas which chased 
us. The crew were finishing the cleaning up of the ship 
with ashes from the try-works, and their noise sounded 
faintly behind me. I lost myself once more. 

There was no land in sight, and no vessel, nothing 
but that gently heaving, golden ocean ; but I imagined that 
the Elizabeth Islands were concealed behind haze on 
the horizon, and that I was bound home across the Bay. 
I wondered how my father would seem, and what he was 
doing at that moment; and I saw in imagination my 
mother's face as she caught sight of me. I knew what 
she would be doing at that moment. She would be cook- 
ing supper — perhaps it was half an hour too early to be 
cooking supper, but soon she would be cooking supper; 


or frying doughnuts, although she was more apt to do that 
in the morning; or making soda biscuit. I could just see 
the great pan of them, and mother stooping before the 
open oven door. We had a plenty of good, homely food, and 
mother's soda biscuits were — well, they were mother's 
soda biscuits. There was nothing like them. 

We got into Fayal in about a week. Wright was taken 
ashore the first thing, and put into the hands of a surgeon. 
We left him there. His hip was pretty bad, and he was 
really sick besides. He had consumption, although he 
would not acknowledge it. He went back to New Bedford 
on the tender, which left after we did, and I am afraid we 
all forgot him quickly. 

Lupo was delivered to our consul, and was also sent back 
on the tender, according to the best recollection I have of 
the matter to be tried in New Bedford — or in the Federal 
Court in that district. I had to sign and swear to a depo- 
sition, which was merely a copy of my journal of the fight. 
When that duty was over I felt much better, for it had 
weighed on my mind for some days, although it turned 
out to be nothing but a formality, and the consul was very 
kind and friendly, as was everybody concerned except 
Lupo. I do not know what became of him. 

The tender was waiting for us. I finished up my journal, 
so far, and my letters. The letters were not long, for all 
my narrative was contained in my journal. There was a 
long letter from my mother, filled with the news of 
home since I had left, and with the kind of thing that 
mothers' letters are always filled with. Boys treat them 
carelessly sometimes, and affect not to value them, but 
they always do value them, I think. My father had writ- 
ten a postscript to my mother's letter, not long, for my 
father never wrote long letters, and was not given to that 
form of self-expression — to any form of self-expression, 
for that matter. I wore that letter to a rag, carrying it 
about with me, and reading it and re-reading it. It brought 


back my homesickness. I rather cherished my homesick- 
ness, I think. 

We had about a hundred barrels of oil to send home, 
and to be put aboard the tender, supplies and provisions 
to get, and a whaleboat if we could, and two men to recruit 
to take the places of Wright and Lupo, and we were likely 
to stay there four or five days at least. 

Some of us were given liberty ashore, and Peter, the 
Prince, Black Man'el, and I undertook a tour into the 
interior. I cannot now remember much about that trip. 
I know that we wandered about the town for a half a day, 
and saw a little white and ancient-looking chapel, which 
we were told that Columbus had visited on his return from 
discovering America; and that we traveled on foot into 
the country. Fayal is less mountainous than most of the 
other islands, but the roads were not good. On the high 
ground back from the town we passed farms, and many 
small, round, terraced areas, not much bigger than a barn 
floor, with low walls of small boulders. They were floored 
with a very hard sort of clay. I believe these areas were 
used as threshing-floors. I remember best that I was 
pretty sore still. 

Our oil was transferred, supplies and provisions on 
board, the new men shipped, and Captain Nelson im- 
patient to get away; but several of the liberty men were 
not back, and although their liberty was not up until the 
next day Mr. Tilton was sent ashore with two men to find 
them. Mr. Tilton knew the places in Fayal where they 
would be likely to be, and he came back in a little over ani 
hour, bringing the men, who were very drunk, and singing' 
and shouting, or maudlin or sullen and vicious, according 
to their natures. Azevedo soused them with cold water, 
and we got under way at once. 

Our course was a little east of south until we struck 
the northeast trades in latitude 28° N., although there was 
a good easterly wind all the way from Fayal, and the 


Clearchus did pretty well for her. We did not stop at 
Tenerife, which would have been several hundred miles 
out of our way. With the trades on our quarter we did 
better yet on a course a little west of south. This took us 
to the Cape Verde grounds. 

During all this time from Fayal up to getting on the 
Cape Verde grounds, we hardly started a sheet, and the 
men had a good deal of time to themselves. Most of them 
were occupied with scrimshawing. I finished my pie 
marker, but did not begin anything else. A boy on ship- 
board does not have nearly as much spare time as would 
naturally be supposed by people who do not know ; none of 
the crew have, either, although the crew is much larger 
than necessary for working the ship, and they do not care 
much for appearances, or for doing things smartly or in 
shipshape fashion. A boy has none of the duties of the men, 
except pulling and hauling when the boats are away, but 
he is at the beck and call of all officers. I really do not 
know whether all the officers have that right, but that was 
the way it worked out, and I never questioned it. Then I 
had my studies, at which I was really working. What 
spare time I had I preferred to spend on deck, gazing at 
the sky and the sea, and what I could see in them, rather 
than working with my eyes in my hat. There was little to 
be seen in the air, but the sea sometimes seemed alive with 
porpoises, and one day I saw a dolphin swimming just be- 
low the surface of the water alongside the ship. As it 
passed, with no perceptible effort, under the seas, with the 
sun shining upon it, it showed beautiful colors, changing 
every instant from one delicate shade of blue or green to 
another, like dissolving views. Then there came another 
and another, and flying fish leaping from the water. Some 
of the flying fish came aboard, or went clear across the 
deck in their flight, and I tried to catch them in my cap 
as they passed. I did catch three. 

In about 14° N. latitude we ran into the doldrums, 


which prevail over but two or three degrees at this point 
and at this season. We were more than a week in getting 
out of them. It did not rain so much as I had expected, al- 
though the clouds hardly broke, and heavy showers were 
likely at almost any time. 

In about latitude 9° N. we ran out of the doldrums and 
into a fresh breeze from the southwest, which the captain 
said was the southwest monsoon. I did not then know 
what a monsoon was. It sounded like simoon and typhoon, 
and I knew that some of them were ferocious and terrible 
things, but I was not at all sure which was the worst. It 
was the strange and foreign sound, I have no doubt, that 
scared me. If typhoons had been called simple hurricanes 
they would not have seemed nearly so bad. I had studied 
about typhoons and simoons and monsoons, and other 
winds, in my physical geography at school, but they had 
meant nothing to me but names, largely because they were 
nothing but names to my teacher. How could they be any- 
thing more? When we ran into it we found that the mon- 
soon — this one, at any rate — was nothing to be afraid 
of. It is a sort of seasonal trade wind, due to the nearness, 
in this case, of the continent ot Africa. We changed our 
course to southeast, and held it until we ran into the south- 
east trades a few degrees farther south; then changed 
again, running nearly west at first, to accommodate the 
ship to the wind, which at first was nearly south. The wind 
got around more to the eastward as we went on, and when 
we crossed the line we could lay a southwest course. 

We crossed the equator in about longitude 25° W. The 
actual crossing occurred at night, but I think that fact had 
nothing to do with the attitude of the men toward that 
important event. They took absolutely no notice of it, 
and I do not believe that more than two or three of them 
thought of it at all. 

In the latitude of Cape St. Roque and Pernambuco, 
the usual tracks for sailing ships from the United States 


and Europe to Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope 
converge because of the trade winds. The tracks of ves- 
sels, either sail or steam, from Cape Horn and the eastern 
ports of South America naturally pass through the same 
somewhat narrow area ; but although it seems narrow when 
you see it on a chart, it covers six or seven degrees of long- 
itude, which is about four hundred miles in this latitude. 
The chance of meeting ships here is, therefore, not so 
great as any one might suppose, but we did see five ships 
in four days. We spoke none of them, although we did try 
to speak one, a big ship which Captain Nelson thought 
was bound to New York. He wanted to send letters, and 
we all hastily got together what we had to send — there 
was no time to write more than a half dozen words — ■ 
and made up a packet. 

The ship did not respond to our signal, however. She 
was nearly a mile away, going like a race-horse, with 
everything she owned on her yards, and the wind just 
abaft the beam. She may not have seen our signal — she 
may not have looked for it, her master being unwilling to 
go to the very considerable trouble' involved in taking a 
packet of letters from an old whaler. At any rate, she did 
not stop or give any sign. She was a beautiful sight as she 
passed to windward under her cloud of canvas, making a 
good sixteen knots, bowing slowly and gracefully, and 
shouldering the seas out of her way, smothered in foam 
to her knightheads. There is nothing so beautiful as a full- 
rigged clipper ship with all her towering spread of sail, 
and with as much wind as she can stagger under. I 
watched her as long as I could see her, thinking that 
merely sailing in such a ship must be sheer pleasure such 
as we in the Clearchus could not realize. I found that J 
was smiling to myself. I wish that the day of the sailing 
ship might come again. It really seems as if it might. 
There is a wide field for the large, fast sailing ship. 
There is none for the small, slow ship. After all, it is a 


question of costs: crews and wages against investment 
and depreciation and the price of coal or oil. 

We kept on down the coast of South America, but well 
out of sight of land, for ten days. For the first half of the 
time we had the southeast trades, which were very nearly 
east, and nothing happened to break the pleasant monot- 
ony. I read the " Lives of the Navigators," for before long 
we should be off the coast of Patagonia, and I wished 
to prepare for that experience. No information was to 
be despised, and who knows how much the true Pata- 
gonians have changed in three hundred years ? I kept track 
of Peter's scrimshawing too, although I did none myself, 
and I devoted a good deal of time to my studies. 

Mr. Brown spent a good deal of time in helping me, and 
from casual remarks and allusions that he made from time 
to time I had pieced out a fragmentary history of his ca- 
reer. I had a pretty good notion that Brown was not his 
real name, but I had no evidence of it. His story, as far as 
I had been able to get at it, with some guesses on my part, 
was this. 

He had come of good family, with some money; how 
much I could not tell, but enough to send him to a good 
school and to college. At school he was rather wild and un- 
controllable, and at college he was worse. In the middle 
of his college course came the Civil War, and he left col- 
lege and enlisted. What his history had been in the war I 
could not guess, for he made but one allusion to being in 
it at all. When the war was over, he went back to college ; 
but in his senior year he got into some drunken scrape, and 
was expelled. His father seemed to have been a hard kind 
of man, or perhaps he had got discouraged and tired of 
pulling him out of scrapes, and he turned him adrift. 

Mr. Brown, as I must call him, wandering down upon 
the Boston wharves, rather desperate, shipped in a fisher- 
man. He had always been used to boats. It was a very 
short cruise, and upon his return he shipped in a mer- 


chantman for the East. On this voyage, as I inferred, he 
had not abandoned his bad habits, and somehow or other 
he found himself cast adrift for the second time, and " on 
the beach " at Batavia. Here he got into some row — a 
fight, which almost ended him — with his outcast com- 
panions, and barely escaped with his life. That seemed to 
have sobered him. He pulled himself together, and re- 
formed ; shipped as foremast hand on a whaler which had 
put into Batavia short of men, and had followed whaling 
for the six years since. Now he was thirty-two or thirty- 
three, quiet and kind and efficient, and he had my un- 
qualified admiration and affection. If I were a second Con- 
rad I would make a book of him. 

In about latitude 17° S. the southeast trades left us, 
and the wind came out from the northeast and north, 
which suited us just as well. We continued on our course 
for another five days, and then stood in to the westward 
for Rio, 


We had good weather to the River Plate. Our northeast- 
erly wind continued until we were two days out of Rio, 
then pulled around into the southwest, and came stronger. 
There are not many days of calms and variable winds in 
this part of the ocean, and gales at this season are rare. 
We were making a course almost due south, and were 
several hundred miles from the coast. When we arrived off 
the Plate, early in November, we reduced sail, and cruised 
to and fro, keeping a sharp lookout for whales. 

We had seen no birds at all on the Western grounds, 
and but few on our way down; but here I saw my first 
albatross, before we had got any whales. The breeze was 
light, but there was quite a heavy swell rolling from the 
southwest, and the ship, under easy sail, was barely mov- 
ing through the water. I happened to have — or to be 
taking — a brief rest from my duties, as I was very apt 
to do. Probably I had been sent on some errand, and, boy- 
like, I was performing it by standing at the rail near the 
windlass, looking out over the heaving sea, and dreaming 
my dreams, when I saw, far ahead of us, a white speck 
on the water. The white speck would rise slowly, as the 
great rollers advanced, until it was on the top of one of 
them ; then, with the passage of the swell, it would fall as 
slowly, until it was hidden in the valley. I had the old 
glass hung about my neck in case we should raise a spout. 
All the officers used to laugh at me for carrying that jan- 
gling load of junk, but I did not care for their laughter, 
and I was glad that I had it then, for I could not have 
gone after it. 

I looked through the glass, and after searching over a 
vast expanse of sea and sky — it is no small trick to hold 


a glass steady on a vessel that is heaving as the Cleaichus 
was, but I had got the hang of letting my feet move with 
the ship and keeping my body steady — after a long 
search, I say, I found my white speck, and saw that it was 
some sort of a great white bird, sitting high in the 
water, like a gull. It may have been sleeping, but it was 
not when I caught sight of it through the glass. Its head 
was up, and it was looking about alertly, and at last it 
caught sight of the ship. The ship was not near to it, 
however, and it continued to stare right at me for a long 
time, until I grew embarrassed, and put the glass down. 
It sounds absurd enough, but you just try looking at a 
distant boat or a duck or a gull, through a glass, and if 
you do not have the same impulse I will eat it — if it is 
the right kind of a duck. When the glass was down, my em- 
barrassment vanished, and I put it to my eyes again. The 
bird was still watching me, looking away now and then, 
and getting more nervous; but it waited until I had a 
distinct view of its shape and plumage, its bill, with a 
hook at the end, and its staring eyes, before taking flight. 
Then, with a last glance toward the ship, it spread long, 
narrow wings, held them out, seemed to rise on its feet, 
and began a sort of run over the surface of the water. 
When it had run a hundred feet or more in this way, and 
was going at great speed, it managed to take the air. Al- 
batrosses do not take the air easily, and the men said that 
they are not able to rise from calm water, but depend on 
the lift of the waves. As it rose it seemed enormous, and 
- I was reminded of the first great blue herons I ever saw. 
I was on a visit to my grandmother, in Newburyport, and 
as we were going over Chain Bridge we saw four of the 
great birds standing in the edge of the marsh. They 
saw us too; and when we stopped to get a better view, 
they rose. I remember they seemed as big as houses, as 
they flew off across the river, trailing their long legs. 
That albatross, seen through my glass, seemed as big as 


a house. Probably he had a spread of wing half as large 
again as that of a great blue heron. 

As I stood, with the glass at my eyes, watching the 
albatross rise and sail away, the surface of the sea for a 
great distance was in the field of the glass. My attention 
was caught by a commotion — a sort of heaving of the sur- 
face — on the side of one of the rollers, three or four 
miles away. At almost the same instant a glistening black 
body shot out, rode high in the water for a moment, and 
then sank without a splash until only two small islands 
were visible. I yelled at the top of my lungs, and as if my 
yell had been a signal, a vigorous spout arose from the 
whale's spiracle, plumed off to leeward, and the melodious 
cry of the Admiral came down to me. 

The whale was undisturbed, and lay there like a huge 
log, taking his time about having his spoutings out. He 
was off the lee bow, and we kept on for perhaps ten min- 
utes, to get more to windward of him. Then we lowered 
two boats. The boats had not gone far when the whale 
raised his flukes lazily, and went down again; and the 
boats went on to the points which their officers thought ad- 
vantageous for the whale's rising, took down their sails, 
unshipped their masts, and waited. 

They had been loafing there about a quarter of an 
hour when, suddenly, without warning of any kind, the 
body of a whale shot clear of the water, between the boats, 
and fell back with a tremendous splash. This was too 
much for the nerves of one of the green hands, who let 
loose a yell. The whale had no difficulty in hearing that 
yell. We heard it on the ship. The whale, which was 
not the one they had been waiting for, but another, 
lobtailed twice, and made off between the boats, to wind- 
ward, before the crews could get their oars in the water. 
The whale was evidently " gallied," and was swimming 
head out. Although the boats took up the chase at once, 
and we hastily lowered another boat to head him off, if 


possible, that boat was too late, and he passed a quarter 
of a mile ahead of the ship. The first two boats, seeing 
that they were rowing a losing race, returned to their 
stations, to wait until the first whale rose ; but the boat we 
had lowered, which was the fifth mate's boat, continued 
the chase for five miles. It got no nearer in the five miles 
of hard rowing, and then gave it up, and returned. 

Meanwhile the two boats were back again, watching 
the water for a sign of the reappearance of the first whale. 
The hour was almost up, and I glanced aloft at the Ad- 
miral's station at the foremasthead. The Admiral was 
not there, for he rowed bow oar in Mr. Snow's boat 
■ — the fifth mate's — but another man was manipulating 
the signal flag. I had learned a little of their system of 
signalling, and I saw that he was telling them that their 
whale had risen far to leeward. I looked and could just 
make out the spout, about a couple of miles to leeward of 
the boats. The whale seemed to be reconnoitering. He 
swam slowly in a circle, always keeping his distance 
from the boats and from the ship, and working to wind- 

" Clean gallied," said a voice behind me. " Damn that 
man! They may as well come aboard." 

That seemed to be Captain Nelson's opinion, for the 
boats were soon called back. It was a disgusted lot of men 
that came over the side. I had no difficulty in spotting the 
man who had yelled, and thereby, as they all maintained, 
had lost them a perfectly good whale. It was Kane, in Mr. 
Brown's boat. He looked sheepish and ashamed, and said 
not a word. Kane afterward became one of our best men. 

We were not always to have that kind of luck. A week 
later we raised whales again. Mr. Baker and Mr. Brown 
lowered at once, and after about half an hour, when more 
whales had come to the surface, Mr. Tilton and Mr. 
Wallet. Mr. Baker struck almost immediately. His whale 
was rather a small one which happened to rise just ahead 


of the boat, and Macy got both irons fast. The whale then 
started to run under water, coming to the surface now 
and then to spout. He ran so hard that it was impossible 
to pull up for lancing, and they were unable even to hold 
all they had, and had to give him line. He was heading for 
Montevideo, and passed out of sight with Mr. Baker in the 
bow, holding a useless lance, and swearing volubly, I have 
no doubt; and with Macy holding hard at the steering 
oar, and the boat throwing a small cataract of spray from 
either side. 

Meanwhile a second whale had risen some distance 
ahead of Mr. Brown. They pulled hard for it, a much 
longer pull than Mr. Baker's. When Mr. Baker was well on 
his way to the coast of South America, and I turned my 
glass on Mr. Brown's boat, he had succeeded in getting 
near the unsuspecting whale, approaching from behind. 
The whale had just become aware of it — he had not 
seen it, but probably he had heard it — and was pre- 
paring to see about having something done about it. What 
that would have been I was never to find out, for the boat- 
■teerer was just taking in his oar. The boatsteerer was 
Starbuck, an energetic Nantucketer from Mr. Tilton's 
boat, who had been given Wright's place over the head of 
Black Tony — the Prince — to my disappointment. I 
think most of the men would have been glad to see the 
Prince get it. The officers would have been glad, too; but 
the Prince was as black as the ace of spades. That fact 
stuck in their crops. It always does, whatever may be 
said; and, although there was no serious objection to a 
black boatsteerer, that would be the end of promotion 
for him, while Starbuck was one of themselves, and would 
go as high as his natural ability would take him. 

Well, Starbuck was just taking in his oar. They were 
very close, and he had no time to get his breath after his 
hard pull, but must throw the harpoon at once ; and it was 
his first whale, and he was undoubtedly nervous. The con- 


sequence was that he did not make a good dart, and al- 
though the harpoon struck, it was not thrown hard enough, 
and only the barb penetrated. His second iron missed 

Fortunately the whale did not seem greatly disturbed, 
but only a little surprised. He appeared to change his 
mind about the boat, and swam off at a leisurely gait. 
Mr. Tilton was nearly up by this time, and Mr. Brown, 
fearing that the harpoon would pull out at any moment, 
signalled him to get fast to the whale. Mr. Tilton did. 
His boatsteerer, Azevedo, a stocky, heavily set Western 
Islander, sunk both irons to the haft in the whale's other 
side, just behind the flipper. Whether the harpoons had 
touched a vital spot I do not know, but the actions of the 
whale were peculiar. In fact, he did not act at all, but 
lay like a vast log on the water, giving both Mr. Brown 
and Mr. Tilton all the chance in the world to pull up and 
lance him. This they did, both, one from each side. The 
whale lay so low in the water that I could see nothing of 
him, but it turned me rather sick to see them both pump- 
ing their lances up and down in him, seeking the life, that 
being the great arterial reservoir I have mentioned. Mr. 
Brown found it, and the whale began to spout thick blood. 
It seemed to me a revolting business, mere butchery of a 
great beast that was harmless and passive. Was this the 
career I had chosen? I put the glass down, feeling a lit- 
tle sick at my stomach and rather faint, and leaned 
against the mast and closed my eyes, missing the flurry, 
which they told me afterwards was lively enough to make 
up for the whale's previous inaction. 

By putting down the glass and closing my eyes I missed 
the first part of an incident which would have given me 
some pleasure. The ship had got pretty near the boats by 
that time, and I was roused by a shout from the Admiral 
and from the crew on deck. Mr. Wallet was slow in get- 
ting into action, as was quite usual with him. Two other 


whales had come up, and one of them, chancing to rise 
very near Mr. Wallet's boat just as he was taking in 
his sail and about to unstep his mast, made for the 
boat without an instant's hesitation. It was this that 
had caused the men to shout. There was nothing harmless 
and passive about that whale, and I could have killed 
him without a qualm — if I had been in the boat and 
had had a chance. The men in the boat evidently saw no 
chance to do anything but get out, for the whale had gone 
under water a short distance from the boat, and they knew 
what he would do next. He did it. He rose at some speed 
directly under the boat, and tossed it into the air as if it 
had been a straw, staving it completely, the men spilling 
out on each side. Two of the men had jumped out before 
the whale struck them, and were swimming away, and the 
others seemed to be swimming away from the fragments 
of the boat as fast as they could, but I could not see, at 
the time, whether they all got away or not. It was all 
white water there. The whale was in a furious temper, 
and chewed the wreckage of the boat and the oars to 
splinters, and then thrashed the mass with his flukes. 
He missed the men, probably failing to see them; and, 
having done all the damage he could, he made off slowly, 
pausing in a truculent way as if he was in doubt whether 
he should attack Mr. Brown and Mr. Tilton. I have had 
no doubt, since I have come to know whales better than I 
did then, that he would have attacked them if he had seen 
them clearly. They were over a quarter of a mile away. 
But you never can tell what a whale will do. 

Mr. Brown immediately cast loose from the dead whale, 
but he did not, as I expected, go at once to the rescue of 
the men from Mr. Wallet's boat. These men were swim- 
ming about in the water. I could just see their heads. 
They had begun to go back to the wreckage of the boat 
and pick up pieces of oars and fragments of planks from 
the broken boat to cling to. Mr. Brown, so far as I could 


see, paid them no attention, but made after the whale, 
which had abandoned its leisurely gait, and was swim- 
ming in a business-like way, as though he had just 
remembered an appointment. The chase was a short one, 
for the boat did not gain at all with the men pulling their 
hearts out, and Mr. Brown gave it up, and went back to 
pick up the men. 

Mr. Tilton had also cast loose, having put a waif on the 
dead whale — a waif is a little flag on a pole, which is 
stuck in a hole made with a spade for that purpose — and 
he had gone in chase of other whales which had come up. 
But the pod seemed to be thoroughly alarmed, and the 
three whales in sight were making off at a pace too fast 
for the boats. That made six whales in the pod, for I 
thought there were no more. 

Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Tilton appeared to be of my 
opinion, for they were giving the dead whale all their at- 
tention. Both boats were alongside of it for some time. 
I could not see just what they were doing, but they were 
evidently getting ready to tow it — probably making the 
lines fast — and presently the two boats straightened 
out and began pulling toward the ship. It was hard work 
towing that whale, and they got ahead so slowly that I 
could not mark their progress, the whale nearly under 
water, and the seas washing gently over his back. The 
ship was bearing down on them, and they stopped row- 
ing, and waited for her. 

There were already sharks about the carcass, half a 
dozen or more, attracted in some mysterious way. They 
had come in with it; had appeared with the first blood. 
It took some little manoeuvring to get the carcass in 
proper position close along the starboard side, where the 
cutting-stage is rigged, the flukes forward, and the head 
about at the gangway. Then a line with a sinker attached 
was dropped between the ship and the body of the whale. 
Beyond the sinker was more line with a float on the end. 


The sinker was dropped down deep enough to carry the 
float down clear of the body, then pulled up again, and the 
float came up beyond the whale. It always does. I never 
saw it fail. The men in the boat got that line, and hauled 
in on it, and pulled it all in, and a heavier line attached to 
its end, and then a chain cable to which the heavy line 
was fast. They made the chains fast, the fluke chain about 
the tail at the smallest part, just before it begins to spread 
into the flukes, so that the carcass would turn in it freely. 
The flukes sometimes measure, from point to point, as 
much as twenty feet. 

We began cutting-in at once. It was already well on into 
the afternoon when we began, and within a couple of 
hours we sighted Mr. Baker's boat returning dejectedly, 
without their whale. The men soon came aboard, rather 
crestfallen. Peter told me that the shank of one iron 
twisted off, and the other pulled out. The whale was still 
going too fast for the boat, and there was nothing to be 
done except to come back. 

" Best we could do, we could n't heave in hard enough to 
get close," he said. " Then Mr. Baker tried pitchpoling." 

"How do you pitchpole, Peter?" I asked. 

"Pitchpole?" said Peter. "Why, the shaft of a lance 
is light, of pine or some light wood, and you take it under 
the end on your hand, with the other hand to guide it. 
Then you toss it in the air blade first. Of course you aim 
at the whale. You must 'a' done the same thing with a 
stick or an arrow many a time. The head being heavy 
and the shaft light, the blade '11 keep ahead. If you ain't 
too far off, and if you 're any kind of a shot, it '11 come 
down into the whale, but the aim ain't certain. It can't be. 
You haul the lance back by the warp that 's fast to the 
shaft. Mr. Baker missed him clean the first time. He must 
'a' been making twelve knots, right into the wind. The 
second shot just tickled his flukes, and he gave such a 
powerful start that the first iron twisted off as if it had 


been made of cheese. That first iron had been doing all 
the pulling, and when it went that brought a sudden 
strain on the second iron, and it ripped out. So there we 
were, and there was the whale leaving us at a mile a min- 
ute, more or less. We came back." 

After supper I went on deck again, and saw Peter stand- 
ing at the starboard rail. I joined him, and we looked 
over at the whale lying there. The cutting-in had been 
suspended for the night. It was dark, and I could not see 
the carcass, but I saw in the water lambent streams of 
phosphorescence moving slowly and lazily to and fro; 
little streaks of bubbles which glowed for a brief second 
or two, and then were gone. Now and then there was a 
burst of the tiny glowing bubbles, as a fin moved power- 
fully. The streaks of uncanny, lambent light seemed to 
interlace, but they all ended at the carcass of the whale 
and outlined it, leaving it in black darkness. 

"See, Peter!" I said. "What a lot of sharks! How 
many there must be in the ocean!" 

This whale was smaller than would have been thought 
from his actions, and it had been possible to get the whole 
case on deck. It had been reposing behind Peter and me 
while we discussed the matter of sharks. It was emptied 
the next morning, after the blubber was all in and the 
carcass cut adrift. 

Bailing the case furnished sport for many of the crew. 
It was not necessary to use the case-bucket, but every kind 
of a receptacle was used, scoops and tin pails and old tin 
cans being in especial favor. When the case was half 
empty, a man got inside. He looked perfectly contented and 
happy, standing in the sloppy, slushy stuff up to his waist, 
ladling it out with a scoop, and he seemed to revel in the 
bath of oil and spermaceti. His getting in raised the level 
of the stuff, so that tin pails and tin cans once more came 
into easy use. I had never seen oil flowing so freely, slop- 
ping and spilling over everything. 


When the trying-out was over, we found that we had 
made just over forty-seven barrels from that whale; pretty 
near the average, taking them as they come. The average 
is always called " five and forty." 


Nothing of note happened for very nearly a month. 
We had the usual variations of weather, good and bad, 
but mostly good, and no gales. We had no luck, however. 
Few whales were raised, and those that we did see were 
shy and wild, and we got none of them. It was December 
before we got another. 

Early one morning I was out on deck. I had been sent 
on some errand by Mr. Wallet. I was never very quick 
on Mr. Wallet's errands, and I stopped by the windlass, 
where I was out of sight from aft, and looked out forward. 
It was a perfect morning, the sun just up, making a path 
of gold over the tops of the seas, and the Clearchus lazily 
rolling along that golden path. Of course I lost myself 
in contemplation, half shut my eyes, and drank in the 
beauty of it. Mr. Wallet and his errands were forgotten, 
the oily, grimy ship was behind me, and the gentle breeze 
blew on my cheek. It was not strong enough to keep the 
heavy sails filled out, and the jibs, over my head, almost 
flapped with every roll of the ship. I imagined myself 
Magellan, and ahead of me that unknown shore, on which 
a huge savage, resplendent in yellow paint, danced and 
made gestures of invitation. It was very real to me, and 
when there suddenly appeared a tiny, soft feather in the 
savage's hair — appeared, seemed to stand still for an in- 
stant, a tiny, drooping ostrich plume, drifted, and dis- 
appeared — I did not know it for what it was. It came 
again, the tiny, drooping ostrich plume; and at the same 
moment the quavering cry from high over my head — 
** Blo-o-ws ! " The dancing savage vanished, and I ran. 

There were between three and six whales in the pod; I 
could not tell just how many, but I set those limits. I 


waited until I was sure Mr. Brown's boat would go; then 
I went unobtrusively and stood beside the captain, for I 
thought he might let me go in it. He took no notice of me, 
and I walked away, my heart in my boots. All five boats 
were away. 

We had seen nothing of the Annie Battles since that 
day near Hatteras, except a dissolving view of her top- 
sails going south, just as we went in to Fayal. Captain 
Coffin had not been waiting on the Western grounds, in 
spite of his promise. I think that all of us, including the 
officers, had completely forgotten her. I know that her 
very existence had slipped from my mind, and our last 
meeting with her was of the same order as our picking up 
the man with his foot bitten off by sharks, but of less 
importance. Now, as I watched the boats sailing slowly 
over that smooth sea, and spreading out fanwise as they 
went, I caught sight of topmasts rising to the eastward. 
They must have been in plain sight for some time before 
I saw them, with their square topsails, for we were al- 
ready raising her lower sails. It was the Battles, there 
could be no doubt about it. 

Where we were, the wind was nothing more than a 
light, variable air, mostly from the southwest; but the 
Battles was bringing with her a brisk breeze from the 
southeast. I ran below to get my glass — that load of junk 
— and hung it about my neck. When I got on deck again 
the Battles seemed to be hesitating, coming up slowly 
into the wind, her topsails shaking and her booms evi- 
dently swinging. It was as if she no longer felt the direct- 
ing hand of any man; as if there was nobody at the helm, 
or she had lost her rudder. I thought it queer behavior, 
and so did Captain Nelson. He was gazing steadfastly at 
her, muttering to himself, and wondering what Fred Coffin 
could be up to. Then he saw me with the glass hanging 
about my neck. 

"Here, Tim," he said, "give me your glass, and run 
below and get mine." 


I gave it to him, and ran below without a word. I was 
v gone but a couple of minutes, but when I got back I saw 
that the Battles had trimmed her sheets, and was paying 
off again. 

" See anything, sir ?" I asked eagerly. 

He shook his head. " Her decks have n't risen yet," he 
said. " Seems to be all right now. I did n't know but she 
was in trouble, and we 'd better run down to her ; and we 
have n't got much of a crew left aboard." 

The breeze had not reached the boats yet — it had not 
reached the whales — but the boats were very much nearer 
the pod of whales than the Battles was, and our mates 
evidently thought that they would be fast long before the 
Battles could lower a boat, and they held on under sail. 
But the whales were wandering directly away from us, 
and the Battles, her hesitation over, was now coming fast. 
I saw first one boat and then another hurriedly take in 
sail, and the men taking to their oars. I could see the 
Battles plainly through my glass, and I almost caught 
the wave she was carrying under her bow. Now and then 
I saw the top of it through the mirage, as she threw the 
spray high. It seemed to me that she was almost on top of 
the whales. She was not, of course. That phenomenon of 
loss of perspective in using a glass has since become 
familiar to me. 

Suddenly the Battles came up into the wind, throwing 
her topsails aback. It stopped her short, all standing. 
Two of her boats were away almost before she had 
stopped, and the men in them pulling as if in a race, the 
boatheader throwing his weight, with his free hand, on the 
after oar at each stroke. It was a race in fact, and the 
prize was a thousand dollars or so. I forget what the price 
of oil was at the time, but I have the impression that it was 
low. The Battles' men were fresh, ours were not, but I 
saw two of our boats, Mr. Baker's and Mr. Tilton's, it 
turned out, although I could not distinguish them at that 


distance — both had been helping the pulling in the same 
way that the boatheaders of the Battles had — come up 
on one side of a whale just as one of the boats from the 
Battles came up on the other side. All three harpooners 
seemed to dart at the same instant. 

What happened then I could not see clearly. It was all 
pretty far away, and all I saw was a confusion of boats 
and men, and the great flukes of the whale rising instantly, 
and crashing down on the sea near one of our boats, just 
missing it and apparently throwing a man into the water. 
Then the whale started off, towing the three boats. The 
details I had from Peter later. 

Macy and Azevedo rarely missed a dart, and they had 
not missed this time, in spite of their hard pull. Macy had 
both irons in to the hafts, and Azevedo one. Azevedo was 
like a bull in strength, but he was not so well placed as 
Macy — near the flukes — and his second iron did not bite 
deep, not much above the barb. When the flukes crashed 
down on the water Mr. Tilton's boat was deluged, and 
Almeida, a green hand, was so scared that he jumped 
overboard. They could not stop then to pick him up, but 
he was picked up later, badly frightened, but none the 
worse otherwise. It is doubtful whether any one in Mr. 
Tilton's boat gave him a thought, for the whale had started 

Nobody in either Mr. Baker's boat or in Mr. Tilton's 
seemed to know definitely who had struck first, although 
they all said, with more or less emphasis, Macy or Aze- 
vedo. There was no agreement as to which of the two 
it was, all in Mr. Baker's boat saying Macy, and all in Mr. 
Tilton's saying Azevedo ; and I really think there can be no 
doubt that all three boats had struck at as nearly the same 
instant as possible. Certainly the Battles' men held up 
their end of the argument a little later. The whale did not 
run fast nor far, with three boats towing, and every man in 
every boat heaving on his line for all he was worth. The 


three mates were standing in the bows with lances poised 
in their hands; and Mr. Baker, seeing a chance, pitch- 
poled. At the same instant the mate of the Battles — if it 
was the mate — also pitchpoled. Peter said it was a pretty 
sight to see the two lances in the air at the same time, as if 
they were from two guns fired with the same lanyard. The 
lances flew true, and pierced the whale at the same 
moment. They were drawn back by the light warps 
attached to the hafts, each man working frantically. Mr. 
Baker was a trifle quicker in recovery. The boat was almost 
within reach of the whale, but not quite, and he darted 
the lance with great force. The Battles' boat was a little 
nearer the whale, and its lance was held for a second 
while the men heaved again. Then it was plunged into 
the side of the whale. 

Not one of the three boats took even the usual pre- 
cautions, which seem little enough, but what chance had 
the whale with three lances being churned up and down 
in his in'ards? He just lay still and quivered, spouting 
thick blood, and gave up the ghost. Then came a ticklish 

" For a quarter of an hour," said Peter, who was telling 
me the story, " I did n't know whether there was going to 
be a fight or not, but I rather thought there was. Mr. 
Baker and the mate of the Battles — he was one of the 
mates, I s'pose — had it back and forth across the back 
of the whale, and they both got pretty mad. Mr. Baker 
said they were first up. 

" ' You were not ! ' said the Battles' mate. ' I was first 
up. But what has that to do with it anyway? Our iron 
struck first.' 

" ' Like hell,' said Mr. Baker. ' Macy's iron struck first. 
Whale 's ours. I 'd swear to it.' 

" 'No doubt,' said the Battles' mate ; ' but that don't 
make it so.' 

" ' What d' ye mean ? ' said Mr. Baker. ' Call me a liar, 
do you ? ' 


" 'I '11 call you anything you like ! ' said the Battles' 
mate. ' I '11 call you thief if you take this whale. It 's 

" Mr. Baker gave him back as good as he sent, and they 
got madder and madder. Just as I thought they were going 
to get in a fight over it, Mr. Baker began to cool down, 
and the Battles' mate began to cool down too. We were 
two boats to his one, and if we chose to just take the 
whale, he could n't prevent us, and he knew it. Mr. Baker 
did n't want to do it that way, and he knew well enough 
what the old man would think of it. 

" ' Tell you what,' he said. ' We don't want to fight 
about it. That would n't do you any good, nor me either, 
though we could do what we pleased if it came to a fight. 
We '11 see Cap'n Coffin and fix it up with him.' 

" ' Fix it up with me, here and now,' said the Battles' 
mate. ' You can't see Cap'n Coffin. He 's confined to his 

" ' Confined to his cabin !' said Mr. Baker. ' What 's the 
matter with him?' 

" ' Nothing much,' said the Battles' mate. ' Sticks in 
his cabin, and won't see anybody.' 

" ' That 's queer,' said Mr. Baker. ' How does he give 
his orders?' 

" ' Instructions in writing to be left on the cabin table 
every morning. No business of yours, but I don't mind 
telling you.' 

" ' Queer! ' said Mr. Baker. ' Very queer/ 

" It is mighty queer too, when you come to think of it," 
said Peter. " But I don't know the rights of it. 

" The Battles' mate was impatient. ' Well,' he says, 
' what 'you got to say ? * 

" Mr. Baker kind o' smiled. ' Fair division,' he says ; 
' we '11 take the blubber, and you take the carcass.' 

" ' What! ' roars the Battles' mate. ' What the — ' Then 
his eye falls on the whale, and travels over it, what you 


can see of it, and that ain't much. He scratched his L/?ad, 
his eye travelling over the whale from end to end. ' I '11 
take you,' he says quietly. ' The carcass to be whole, and 
to be delivered at our side. Does the carcass include the 

" ' The carcass does not include the case,' said Mr. 
Baker, very sarcastic. He had been looking the whale 
over. ' Don't you think you 've got enough ? ' 

" ' I '11 take a chance,' said the Battles' mate, smiling. 
' Delivered at our side, remember.' 

" ' I '11 go halfway,' said Mr. Baker. ' Be ready to take 
it there. I '11 stand to my bargain, but I 've an idea that 
the joke 's on me.' 

" And the joke 's on him, I 'm thinking, Tim, and on us. 
Come and take a look." 

He led me to the side. The whale we had been talking 
about, with one other, lay there below us. 

" Now," said Peter, " if you '11 notice, that whale looks 
kind o' thin and withered-like for a whale of his size. 
It 's not enough to see unless you were taking special 
notice, but the Battles' mate was ; and it 's my idea that 
he '11 not make more 'n thirty-five or forty barrel, when 
he ought to make sixty. The Battles' mate no doubt expects 
to find ambergris in him, and Mr. Baker thinks he will, 
and I think he will — unless we can find a way to get it 
out of him without cutting him open. Mr. Baker gave 
his word not to cut the carcass." 

" How could they do that, Peter?" 

" Well, Tim, I 've never seen it done, but we could try. 
Swing an anchor, or some other heavy thing, say a hogs- 
head o' water, above him, and let it drop a few times on 
his stomach or his insides so 's to stir 'em up well, and we 
might get a little. It 'd be worth trying." 

When we had finished cutting-in, we did try just that. 
I suppose they were afraid an anchor would tear the 
carcass, but a cask of sea-water would not. We salvaged 


a few scraps of ambergris, about a thousand dollars' 
worth, just enough to let the officers know what a poor 
bargain Mr. Baker had made. I never knew how much of 
the stuff the Battles got from this whale. Probably ten 
times as much. 

Altogether that was one of our unlucky days. Mr. 
Wallet let the Annie Battles herself get between him 
and his whale, and take it away from him. He did not 
exert himself or his men to get it, it seemed to us, and 
Captain Nelson's displeasure was clear enough. I have 
no doubt it was clear to Mr. Wallet, for I saw the captain 
talk forcibly to him when he came aboard, although I do 
not know what he said. Mr. Snow being on the end of 
the line farthest from the Battles, got his whale without 

Mr. Brown's boat fared the worst. He was waiting for 
his whale to rise, and the second boat from the Battles 
came up opposite him, and waited also. When the whale 
rose, Starbuck struck him first. There could be no doubt 
about it. I saw it all clearly through my glass. Notwith- 
standing, the Battles' boat pulled up at once, and sunk an 
iron in him. At that third iron — Starbuck had two irons 
fast — the whale started to run, and we had to give him 
line. While the line was snaking out, rather slack, some- 
how or other, for the second time on that voyage, it kinked 
and caught a man in the kink. It was Kane who was 
caught, about his arm or shoulder. He had not far to go, 
for Mr. Brown had put back his kicking-strap immediately 
after the accident to poor Wright ; but his going those few 
feet was rather sudden. The kicking-strap stopped him. 
That might have been as unfortunate for him as being 
taken overboard, but Mr. Brown, who had changed places 
with Starbuck, saw it almost before it happened, and 
reached for the hatchet and cut. His action was lightning- 
like in its quickness. Although Kane brought up on tho 
kicking-strap, he did not have to start the heavy boat, 


or quite possibly his arm might have been torn out. As it 
was, he got off with a severe wrench to his shoulder, and 
with a badly bruised arm. His arm turned black where 
the kink had caught it, and showed the lay of the line 

That was the end of that whale for us. The Battles' 
boat got him. 


Our officers were all highly indignant at the conduct of 
the Battles, which was contrary to all the ethics of whal- 
ing, if not to the law of the high seas. I overheard Captain 
Nelson talking with Mr. Baker, who got very vehement 
about it, and wanted to take Starbuck's whale away from 
them by force. 

Captain Nelson was quiet for a moment, stroking his 
beard, which had got pretty ragged. 

" Some excuse, perhaps," he said at last. " Kind of a 
row with Fred three or four weeks before we sailed. My 
house. Maybe I was a little trifle hasty, but so was he. 
Both got mad, and I said more than I meant to. Never 
thought he 'd — well, I '11 go aboard of him in the morn- 
ing, and see if I can't fix it up." 

So Lizzie Nelson was at the bottom of it all! At our 
house we always spoke of her as " that Nelson girl," a 
rather pretty girl in a buxom, loud, Nelsonish sort of way ; 
" pleasant-spoken " the best that people said of her, and 
the worst much worse than that. I had the feeling that 
I was warned against the wiles of Lizzie Nelson, although 
my mother never actually said anything against her. You 
would think it unnecessary to warn a boy of fifteen against 
the wiles of a girl of twenty, but you did not know Lizzie 
Nelson, and my mother did. However, I did not fancy 
her, nor any of her stripe. Ann McKim was the idol of 
my boyhood, as she was the idol of my youth. I had no 
room for fancy for the Lizzie Nelsons of the world, but 
there were plenty of those who had. 

We were not to know the results of Captain Nelson's 
visit, for he did hot make it. The Annie Battles had 
finished cutting-in during the night, and at dawn her top- 


sails were just dropping over the horizon to the eastward. 
We followed. There was no chance of our catching her, of 
course, unless she hove to to try out, and we could creep 
up on her unbeknownst, like 'Zekiel. We soon lost her; and 
although we kept on to the eastward for a couple of days, 
Captain Nelson was not yet ready to leave those cruising 
grounds. He would not be ready for that, with average 
luck, for weeks, and it was like looking for a needle in a 
haystack, with the additional disadvantage that, even if 
we found the needle, it would slip away at the first sight 
of us. At the end of the second day we came about, and 
worked back across the grounds. 

While making a passage from one cruising ground to 
another the distribution of duties is much the same as on 
a merchant vessel. When whaling grounds have been 
reached, however, all this is changed. Each boat's crew 
constitutes a watch, and the night, from four bells to four 
bells — from six in the evening to six in the morning — 
is divided among them. The officer of the watch is the boat- 
header, or mate. A watch, for a four-boat ship, is thus 
three hours long, and for a five-boat ship, such as ours, 
two hours and forty minutes. This easing up on the men is 
in order that they may be as fresh as possible for the 
chase and taking of whales, which is their first and most 
important business. For the same reason the crew has only 
the most necessary duties during the day; and except for 
the necessary change of sails morning and night, and 
washing down and scrubbing the decks each morning, the 
day is passed in utter idleness, so far as regular ship's 
duties are concerned. The men are allowed to do what they 
please : read — if they can read — play cards, mend 
clothes, scrimshaw, sleep. 

During the day the ship stands along under easy sail 
so that nothing will be missed, usually going to wind- 
ward slowly, tacking or beating; picking up whales if 
they are seen and can be got. At sunset light sails are 


taken in, topsails close-reefed, and everything done to 
insure the ship's making as little progress as possible dur- 
ing the night. They even wear ship occasionally, to keep in 
the same place throughout the night. At six in the morning 
— four bells — or perhaps earlier if they are in the more 
temperate latitudes, the crew is called up, sail restored, 
decks washed and scrubbed, and she is off again on her 
beating to windward. It made me think of the terns fishing 
off Ricketson's Point in Padanaram: tacking slowly, beat- 
ing to windward, the eyes above the coral-red bill, like a 
man at the masthead, keeping a bright lookout for fish; 
then coming down swiftly with the wind to the leeward 
side of their cruising ground to begin once more their slow 
beating against the wind. In just this way, when the ship 
has reached the windward edge of her cruising ground, 
she wears around, and comes down before it, to repeat 
the process until the old man has tired of it. 

We had been doing this for three weeks, since the Annie 
Battles parted from us, without taking any whales. We 
had seen but two spouts, and lowered once without result. 
The other spout was sighted about sunset, and we did not 
lower. I was standing, one morning, by the rail, as I was 
always doing when I had a chance, and Macy was walk- 
ing the deck behind me. As he was passing I turned to 

"No sign of the Battles," I said. I had been thinking 
of her, and my remark was only the continuation of my 

" No sign of the Battles," he said cheerfully, stopping 
by me for a moment. " I 'm glad of it. I thought we 
should surely see her again before this, but we haven't, 
and good riddance, I say." 

He began his pacing the deck again, and I strolled for- 
ward. I found Peter sitting beside the windlass, working 
on his model. I never knew Peter to be asleep. He did 
not seem to need sleep. I told him what Macy had said. 


" Aye, Tim," he said, " and I hope so too. The sea 's 
a big place, but it 's a little place, too, and you 're always 
running across some vessel you don't want to see, 'specially 
when she 's on the same business as yourself. One voyage 
I made to eastern ports, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai, 
Manila, and the like, I was always meeting Tim Fernand, 
who 'd been my shipmate in the navy. He 'd shipped on 
the Mary Easton, and she followed us around from port 
to port, or beat us to it. I was hard put to it to get rid 
of him, for he 'd fasten on me like a leech, and he was a 

" Like the Annie Battles." 

Peter looked up at me with a smile in his eyes, but 
said nothing, and then there came down to us from the 
masthead the familiar, quavering cry. Peter sighed, put 
down his model, and got up. It was a single spout — from 
a lone whale, so far as he could judge — miles off to the 
southeast. Peter turned back to me. 

" Speak of the devil," he said. " Do you see, Tim ? 
Just there, well beyond the whale? What do you make 
of it? " 

I was a long time in seeing anything, but at last I made 
out dimly the two slender topmasts with their yards, but 
no sails. 

" Cutting-in, like as not," said Peter. " If she was try- 
ing-out you 'd see the smoke." 

We headed up toward the whale, and when we were 
near enough, Mr. Wallet and Mr. Brown lowered. The 
whale led them a leisurely chase directly toward th( 
Battles, and we followed. Mr. Brown got fast, but Mr. 
Wallet did not. He sailed on after the whale, which was 
running away with Mr. Brown. The whale was going 
much faster than Mr. Wallet's boat was, and it was a 
losing chase from the moment Mr. Brown struck. We 
wondered, and snickered, for it was so like Wallet. As 
Peter said, it was like a drunken man chasing his hat, 


always hoping it would stop, and always keeping after 
it with the one fixed idea. But Peter was wrong about the 
idea. If Mr. Wallet had a fixed idea it was not what Peter 

— and all of us who watched — thought it was, for he 
sailed straight up to the side of the Battles. Although we 
had got within three miles of her, I could not see clearly 
what was happening then, but Peter could. His eyes 
were better than mine, in spite of his age. 

I " Now, what do you make of that?" he cried. " They 're 
holding her there, and the Battles' crew ain't making any 
sort of objection that I c'n see. It 's a queer vessel and 
a queer crew and queer doings, and Cap'n Coffin 's the 
queerest of the lot, if you believe what they say of him 

— which I don't. There goes Mr. Wallet over the side, 
and that 's queerer yet. Mebbe he thinks he can clear up 
the queerness, but I miss my guess if that 's what he 
thinks. If it was the old man himself, now, or Mr. Baker, 
say, or Mr. Brown, I 'd say it would be cleared up, but 
'tween you and me, I doubt Mr. Wallet can if he tries, 
and I doubt he tries." 

" What do you suppose, Peter," I asked, " he means 
to — " 

" I ain't had time to s'pose anything, Tim," said Peter. 
" There 's George Hall, now, wanting to go aboard, and 
they won't let him. Tell him to cast off and keep off. I 
c'n almost hear 'em say it. Quite a crowd of 'em along 
by the gangway, and all motioning him off. They were 
cutting-in, as I thought, and they 've let the carcass go 
adrift. You can see it, I guess, going astern, just awash. 
Now some of 'em take spades, and jab at the boathook, 
and they 're getting sail on her." 

Peter's bulletins stopped, and we just stood there, 
gazing in silence. 

" That Wallet," he said at last, " 's got more sense than 
I gave him credit for. You see, Tim, if it 's desertion, 
which is more 'n likely, and if we ever get hold of him 


again, he '11 say that he was kidnapped by that crew of 
pickpockets. It 'd be hard to prove 't he was n't, and it 
would n't make much difference whether anybody believed 
it or not. I £ we don't get him — and I should think that 
the old man 'd be glad to be rid of him — we '11 never 
know the rights of it, or what '11 be done about his lay in 
our take so far. I don't know what course the — Aye, aye, 

For Mr. Baker's boat was called away, and Peter ran. 
Captain Nelson himself took the boat, and the men pulled 
hard for the Battles; but her mainsail was already up, 
and they got the foresail up and broke out a jib, and she 
stood off on the wind before the boat had gone half a mile. 
It was hopeless to chase her, and Captain Nelson came 
back. He was very sober and stern as he came over the 
side, and we watched the square topsails of the Battles 
gradually sinking to the eastward, while we got ready 
to receive Mr. Brown and his whale. 

As soon as the cutting-in and trying-out was finished 
we made sail, and headed for Montevideo. It was within 
a couple of days of Christmas, and the men hoped for 
some liberty ashore. Captain Nelson was governed by 
other reasons in making for port; he wanted to send let- 
ters, as it turned out, chiefly on account of the mysteri- 
ous behavior of the Battles, and the desertion of Wallet, 
I suppose, although I never knew definitely. He let it be 
known that any letters would be sent, and I wrote home, 
but by a piece of carelessness of my own, my letter did 
not go. 

We did not get into Montevideo by Christmas, as we 
had been more than three hundred miles from the coast; 
and we had to be content with the usual ship's fare on 
that day, with the addition of plum duff and a serving 
of rum. I did not take the rum, of course, but I took the 
duff, which tasted good enough, although it was nothing 
more than soggy dumpling, with molasses over it. I could 


not help thinking of my mother's dumplings — food of a 
different species — and of the turkey and cranberry sauce, 
and the pumpkin and apple pies, and the apples and nuts 
and raisins to which my family were sitting down on that 
day. No doubt they were thinking of me. 

At Montevideo, which we reached in the afternoon of 
the twenty-sixth, the captain sent his letters and tried to 
ship another man. This he was unable to do, and he had 
to sail without him, a man short. The men were dis- 
appointed in their hoped-for liberty, only one boat's crew 
getting two hours' liberty. This crew was chosen with 
some care, as the men must be those who could be relied 
upon to return at the end of their two hours. We sailed 
at sunset, with some grumbling on the part of the men. 

Nothing was done about the second mate's berth for 
more than a week, and I did not happen to hear him 
mentioned, although I have an idea that the captain 
talked the matter over with Mr. Baker. At last, how- 
ever, he acted, having concluded, as I supposed, that 
there was little chance of getting Mr. Wallet back. There 
was some show of letting the men choose, but it amounted 
to nothing. Macy was made fifth mate, and the other mates 
moved up a peg, so that Mr. Brown was second mate. 
That pleased me, and the appointment of Macy pleased 
Peter, for he said that there was not a better man on the 
ship. I agreed with him in that. Macy was one of the finest 
specimens of man I have ever seen. He was over six feet 
tall, with a perfectly proportioned figure, but his perfect 
proportions did not give an adequate idea of his size unless 
he stood beside another man. He had rather tightly curling 
flaxen hair — we called him " Towhead " — and deep 
blue eyes, and a smile that won the heart of every one on 
whom it shone. I felt that I should like to know him 
well, but it was not easy to know him well. There was 
about him a certain atmosphere of aloofness. No doubt 
this was due largely to a natural shyness; but, knowing 


less about such things then than I do now, I ascribed it to 
a feeling of superiority on his part. That was his rep- 
utation on the ship, a reputation which he did not deserve. 
He was a silent giant, not given to useless motions, but 
you felt his power and his alertness. It used to give me 
great pleasure merely to look at Macy. 

Unfortunately, we were now one man short, and the 
vacancy was in Mr. Brown's boat, for Starbuck had been 
moved into Macy's place in Mr. Baker's boat, again over 
the head of the man to whom the promotion would natu- 
rally fall. This was Ezra Winslow, a good-natured young 
fellow, but rather stupid, and not nearly as good a man 
as the Prince. There were few men in the whole crew 
who were anywhere near as good as the Prince, and there 
was another boatsteerer needed, and he was it. I do not 
know whether it was the usual practice, in cases of the 
promotion of mates, for the mates who were moved up to 
keep the boats and crews they had had before, but they did 
in this case. The Prince was therefore Mr. Brown's boat- 
steerer. The vacancy in his boat was not filled for some 
time, but it worked out very well for me. 


There was no unfavorable change in the weather, and 
we cruised for three weeks without getting a whale, 
or even raising a spout. One morning, however, after a 
rather thick haze had cleared away somewhat, we found 
ourselves within half a mile of a pod of six or seven, which 
were lying on the surface, spouting lazily. They did not 
seem to be feeding, and I remember that I had heard a 
distant splash while it was still too thick to see them, and 
Peter, to whom I had turned inquiringly, had said that it 
was likely a whale breaching. Almost everybody on board 
had heard it, and the lookouts were doubled. They fully 
expected to sight whales, and they did sight them from the 
masthead before we could see them from the deck. No cry 
was given, but the men came down and reported. 

There was hardly a breath of wind, and sound would 
carry easily in that weather. Indeed, it was uncanny. 
There seemed to be streaks or columns in the air which 
reflected the sound in the strangest ways, or acted like a 
lens for sound, at one moment utterly cutting off sounds 
that originated but a short distance away, and at the next 
moment sending to us clearly faint noises made by the pod 
of whales at a half-mile distance. Boats were lowered with 
the utmost care not to make a noise, even being put into 
the water one end first, to avoid any splash. The men 
were cautioned not to talk, and they sat silent in their 
boats, cast off the falls quietly, and took to their paddles as 
soon as the boats were in the water. It was of no use, how- 
ever. The whales were keeping tabs on us, and went down 
quietly when a boat was within quarter of a mile of them, 
coming up half a mile away. It was exasperating. There 
were whales almost at the side, more than we had taken 


in six months, and we could not get near them ; and after 
trying for hours, the boats were called back to the ship. 

I do not remember that I felt any disappointment, 
however. To tell the truth, I was rather hoping for a pam- 
pero. It is not a fish, but a wind. I had some vague recol- 
lection of the brief description in Warren's Physical Geo- 
graphy as a cold southwest wind which originates in the 
Andes, and sweeps with great violence over the pampas 
of Buenos Ay res, and is felt for some leagues ^t sea. My 
only comment on this description is that I don't believe 
it for a minute. We were cruising just south of the lati- 
tude of Buenos Ayres, three or four hundred miles from 
the coast. No wind whose origin is purely local, in 
mountains even as high as the Andes, is at all likely to be 
of the violence of the sample we had, after traversing the 
width of a continent — narrow as it is at this latitude — 
and four hundred miles of ocean. They must be fed from 
the pampas, be supplied with energy, at least ; and it seems 
much more reasonable to me to believe that these winds 
originate over the pampas. They are of the nature of a 
thunder-squall, and very probably of similar origin. But 
Warren can hardly be considered a recent authority. 

I had my wish gratified, and I shall never make another 
wish of that kind. We were sailing along easily in a 
moderate northerly wind about the middle of the afternoon 
when the Admiral's cry came down to us. There were 
two spouts to the eastward. I watched them rather list- 
lessly, for I had rather lost interest in spouts. An albatross 
or a frigate bird would have roused much more interest. 
We were seeing albatrosses occasionally, and one had 
followed the ship for two days, picking up scraps from 
the galley, and finally following the carcass of a whale 
when we cut it adrift. But the whole whale business had 
become a matter of routine. 

Three boats were called away, Mr. Baker's, Mr. 
Brown's, and Mr. Macy's. I had to move, for I was in the 


way of one of them ; and I moved as little as possible, and 
gave them no further attention. Then I heard Mr. Brown 
speaking to me. 

" Here, Tim," he said. " If you think you can pull one 
of these oars, tumble in here, but be quick about it." 

Instantly I was all attention. I jumped for the boat, 
but stopped. 

" The captain said," I objected, " that I could n't go 
until he — " 

" Captain's orders," he interrupted sharply. " Go or 
not, but be quick or the other boats '11 get away first." 

I made no reply, but gave a little nervous laugh of 
delight, and tumbled in. I did not know whether I could 
row one of the long, heavy oars or not, but I could take 
two hands to it, and I had rowed all my life in every 
kind of a boat, light and heavy. We took the water, and 
cast off the falls, and shoved clear. Then we stepped the 
mast and set the sail, and were off after my first whale. 
All the men were kind and helpful, but the Prince took me 
especially under his wing, and told me what my duties 
were in stepping the mast. When we were under sail he 
gave me rapid instructions as to my duties in meeting 
every emergency that ever arose in connection with the 
capture of a whale. I could not remember a quarter of 
them. It was all I could do to understand them. 

Fortunately I did not have to remember. No emergency 
arose. We came up with our whale without much pulling, 
the Prince planted both his irons, and we backed off 
furiously. The whale stopped, astonished, Mr. Baker 
came up on the other side, and Starbuck got an iron fast; 
but not before the whale had recovered his power of 
motion, so that Starbuck's iron entered at the small, and 
not near the side fin, where he had meant to place it. Mr. 
Baker's boat was deluged with water by a sweep of the 
flukes, and the whale was under way, head out. Mr. Macy, 
I saw later, had struck the other whale, and was having no 


Our whale had turned about to the eastward, and was 
running. We had to give him line at first, and the whale 
line went twisting and writhing out past me like a living 
snake, making a scraping, hissing noise on my oar handle. 
I shrank away from it. Then, with another turn around 
the loggerhead, it straightened and tautened, and did not 
go so fast, but edged by me foot by foot; and the spray 
began to rise in a miniature cascade on each side of the 
bow. Then another turn around the loggerhead, and the 
progress of the line past me was by inches, slower and 
slower, and I could hear it creaking. Then it stopped, 
and we were fairly off on my first sleigh-ride behind a 
whale. The Prince had gone aft and taken the steering 
oar, and Mr. Brown had come forward. 

The boats were going at a rate which seemed terrific, 
nine or ten knots. Our boat rolled viciously in the cross- 
sea, and veered and bucked. I could see the Prince putting 
all his strength and weight on the long steering oar, 
first one way and then the other, to meet her as she yawed, 
and keep her on a straight course. The cascades of spray 
rose from her keel now, about a foot or two aft of the 
stem, higher than the gunwale; and the northerly wind 
caught one of them, and blew it inboard. I was drenched 
with it, and so was the man aft of me. We seemed to leap 
from sea to sea. When I gathered courage enough to look 
at Mr. Baker's boat, I saw that that was a mistaken im- 
pression; but I felt as if I were on a shingle swung skit- 
tering along the top of the waves at the end of a pole. 

Mr. Brown ordered us to heave in on the line. We 
strained our backs to the last muscle, but could only gain 
a fraction of an inch. Mr. Baker's crew could do no 
better, and there was nothing for it but to hang on and 
wait for the whale to tire and slacken speed. I looked back 
- — I continued to look back — and saw the Clearchus 
already hull down. I could see no sign of Mr. Macy. I 
watched the ship until she sank to her tops, then farther; 


then I could no longer make her out at all. And still 
that whale kept up his furious gait, head out, as though 
he were bound to take us to the Cape of Good Hope or 
to the Carroll grounds at least. 

We must have been going on in that way for an hour 
and a half or more before the whale showed any sign of 
weariness. It needed a man of more experience than I had 
to tell the symptoms, or to perceive that our speed was 
slackening. Mr. Baker's boat was just about abeam of ours, 
and a couple of oars' lengths away. He had dropped back 
a boat's length or so to avoid fouling us, but the two 
boats were within easy speaking distance, and Mr. Baker 
and Mr. Brown looked at each other, and spoke at the 
same instant. 


Then they both nodded, and we got the order. We 
heaved, and gained a couple of inches ; heaved again, and 
six inches of line came in. Mr. Brown was not a yelling 
mate. He spoke only loud enough for us to hear. 

Mr. Baker was an accomplished swearer, a linguist of 
parts. I did not know there was such a variety of oaths 
in the language until I heard him swearing at his crew, 
urging them to heave, and calling them more vile names 
than you would think any men would be willing to hear 
quietly. Swearing was very general on the Clearchus, 
and none of Mr. Baker's language was to be taken seri- 
ously, which, of course, the men knew. I do not know what 
it is about the sea that prompts men to swear, but there 
must be something. Most of them get so that they cannot 
make the simplest remark without an oath. I was getting 
into the habit myself, although I had never been accus- 
tomed to using such language or to hearing it. Before I 
left home I had tried once or twice saying " Damn !" with 
inward quakings, and half expecting to see the heavens 
fall; now I said " Damn!" and other things quite fluently, 
without quakings of any kind, and before I got home I 


was a confirmed swearer. It is a bad habit, and weakens 
what is said rather than strengthening it. When I real- 
ized this I broke myself of the habit. Mr. Brown was 
no swearer, nor was Mr. Macy, nor Peter Bottom, nor 
the Prince, all of whom I admired, each according to his 
• fashion. 

With all Mr. Baker's flow of language, his crew did 
not gain an inch more than we did; but the heaving must 
have had its effect on the whale. There was still a good 
deal of line out, perhaps fifteen or twenty fathoms, when 
he seemed to stop suddenly. There was a general cry of 
" Flukes !" and his flukes went into the air, and he sounded. 

When Starbuck had struck, as I have said, he was a 
trifle late. He succeeded in getting one iron fast — in 
the small — but had to heave the other overboard. This 
second harpoon had been skittering over the waves ever 
since, here and there, according to its whim. It had not 
touched our line, although Mr. Brown had been afraid 
that it would; and it might easily have touched our line, 
for a whale swims low in the water, and there is seldom 
any part of him continually visible aft of his hump, so 
that there is nothing in the way. But the harpoon had 
touched Mr. Baker's line several times — a good many 
times; each touch lasting but an instant, like the bite of 
a shark. A harpoon is even sharper than a shark's tooth, 
and each touch had severed some of the tough strands. 
It was a wonder that the line had survived the heaving. 
It must have only just survived. When the whale sounded, 
Mr. Baker did not give him line, but was holding until 
last second. This may have been the proverbial last straw, 
or it may have been simply that the time had come for 
the line to part. At any rate, it parted. Mr. Baker cursed 
fluently in a really heartfelt way, and the line was rapidly 
hauled in. The last fathom of it was a mere feather of 

This left us alone fast to the whale. He did not go 


deep, however, and Mr. Baker was waiting, near us, for 
him to come up, which he did in about five minutes a 
few feet ahead of Mr. Baker's boat. He came up almost 
vertically, his head and body shooting out of the water, 
and exposing his side fin. Then he fell over with a tre- 
mendous splash; but Mr. Baker had shot his lance into 
him, and quickly withdrawn it. The shank was bent, but 
Mr. Baker straightened it by knocking on the gunwale, 
and let him have it again. 

Meanwhile we had been taking in our slack line as 
fast as we could, and when it tautened, heaving in on it 
to bring us up close enough for Mr. Brown to use his 
lance. We had not been able to keep the slack ahead of the 
whale, with all our haste, and he had got a turn around 
his flukes, like a half hitch, so that we could not shake 
it loose. It was impossible for us to haul in ahead of his 
flukes, and lancing them would be no more than an annoy- 
ance to the whale, like a mosquito bite. If he should take it 
into his head to slap that mosquito, it might prove more 
than an annoyance for us. There was nothing to be done 
but to slack off the line and try to row up to his side fin, 
where Mr. Brown wanted to be. We could not have hoped 
to do this if the whale's attention had not been taken up 
with Mr. Baker's boat. He seemed to attribute all his 
troubles to that boat, and was putting up a half-hearted 
sort of a fight; but even a half-hearted fight by a fairly 
husky whale is not to be taken lightly. Mr. Baker was 
having his hands full. 

We pulled up to within a boat's length, lay there for 
a few minutes watching for an opening; then, putting 
all our strength into our oars, we drove the boat in close 
to the side fin. Mr. Brown plunged the lance in deep, and 
began churning it slowly up and down, feeling for the 
heart or the great reservoir of arterial blood near it. 
The whale had lobtailed once upon feeling the lance, 
without doing any damage; but in a few strokes Mr. 


Brown's lance had found the life. A tremor passed through 
the great body, a spout rose slowly from his spiracle 
black with clotted blood, he bestirred himself, and we 
backed off hastily. He was going into his flurry. 

That flurry was not an elevating spectacle, but we all 
watched it. I was fascinated, and so the others seemed 
to be, all in Mr. Baker's boat as well as in ours. Our at- 
tention for a long time had been so entirely taken up 
by the whale that not a man of the twelve — counting 
myself as a man — had looked about him, or been aware 
of anything but the whale and the two boats, and what 
was happening there. Suddenly Mr. Baker broke out in 
a perfect stream of curses. Mr. Brown smiled. 

" Look !" he said. " Like a bad penny." 

We all looked where he pointed. There was the Annie 
Battles, not a mile away, bearing down directly upon us. 
Not one of us said a word, but two or three were grinning. 
It was beginning to seem funny. 

Mr. Baker did not seem to think it funny. He had 
stopped his flow of profanity, whether because he had ex- 
hausted his stock, or because his choicest gems were inade- 
quate, I could not guess ; and now, standing in his place in 
the bow like a gaunt statue of a man, silent and motionless, 
he watched the Battles grow rapidly, and the foam under 
her forefoot, and the men upon her deck. He held his lance 
loosely in his hand, the shank resting on the gunwale. If 
she had shown any sign of changing her course, I knew 
that he would have ordered his crew to pull hard for her, 
in the hope of boarding her before she got away. She did 
not ; and there is no sense in hard pulling to meet a vessel 
which is coming to meet you as straight and as fast as 
she can. And, although Mr. Baker was holding his lance 
loosely, I knew that his great fist would grip it hard at 
the slightest provocation. 

At last the Battles put her helm down, slacked off 
her sheets, backed one topsail, and hung there, almost near 


enough for us to heave a line aboard of her. No one on 
her hailed us, but some of her men were standing at the 
rail like wooden images, watching us, while others were 
going lazily aloft. By this time our whale had spouted 
his last spout, and lay quiet in the sea, with our irons 
still in him and our line fast to them. Mr. Baker's men 
had their oars in the water, and his boat seemed to be 
drifting toward the Battles. I saw Mr. Wallet and another 
standing by the man at the wheel. I could see even his 
feeble smile and his pale blue eyes and his tight curling 
hair, almost like a negro's but for the color. Mr. Wallet's 
was sandy, with a reddish tinge, like brown sandstone; 
some of our men had called his hair his brownstone front. 
When he saw Mr. Baker's boat drifting toward them, 
he moved uneasily, his smile faded, and he spoke to the 
man standing with him. He knew Mr. Baker of old. 

Mr. Baker did not wait to get there. " If you try to 
steal this whale," he shouted, " why, damn your souls, 
there '11 be blood spilled." 

The man to whom Mr. Wallet had spoken was leaning 
on the rail. He laughed. " There 's been blood spilled 
already, ain't there? Seems to me I see it on your lance." 

" That 's good clean blood of a whale ! " retorted Mr. 
Baker. " There 's other blood waiting that ain't so clean. 
I 'd hate to dirty a good lance with it." 

" Cheap talk ! " said the other contemptuously. " We 
don't steal whales." 

The boat was now within an oar's length of the side of 
the Battles. 

" I 'm coming aboard," said Mr. Baker, " to see Cap'n 
Coffin about it — and about another matter." 

" You can't see Cap'n Coffin," replied the other, who 
seemed to be one of the mates, and in command of the 
vessel at the moment, " and you don't come aboard of 
us. Sheer off there ! " 

A number of the men at the rail of the Battles showed 


themselves to have spades in their hands. They put the 
spades over the side, and held them suspended there. 

"Keep off!" said the mate of the Battles. "We'll 
smash it ! " 

For Mr. Baker had taken the boathook, and had hooked 
on to their chains. He was drawing the boat up close, 
when a spade smashed down on the boathook just back 
of the iron, and cut it off clean. 

Perhaps it was too serious a matter for mere cursing. 
At any rate, Mr. Baker said nothing at all for some 
seconds, to our great surprise. 

" Very well," he said then, quietly, " if you 'd rather 
have it that way, so be it. I '11 report it — - fully. Now I 
make demand upon you for Alonzo Wallet, formerly 
second mate of the Clearchus, a deserter from his ship." 

The mate of the Battles smiled, and beckoned Mr. 
Wallet. He came, with his weak smile again upon his 

" What 's wanted of me?" he asked. 

" Cap'n Nelson wants you," Mr. Baker replied, 
m strange as it may seem ; for you 're the most good-for- 
nothing officer that ever I shipped with." 

With those spades between him and Mr. Baker, Wallet's 
courage had revived, but he no longer smiled. He leaned 
over the rail as far as he could, and shook a feeble finger 
at Mr. Baker. 

" Tell the old man to go to hell," he said ; " and go to 
hell yourself, will you, Jehoram? You 're bound there now 
if you don't look sharp." 

He pointed to the southwest. The sun had disappeared 
behind a heavy mass of black cloud, in which there ap- 
peared, as we looked at it, the glare of lightning. I had 
thought that it seemed early for it to be getting dark, but 
it had not occurred to me to look. The mass of clouds was 
but just above our horizon. A few men in the two boats 
had observed it. Mr. Brown and Mr. Baker had seen it foi 


fifteen or twenty minutes past. It may have accounted for 
Mr. Baker's readiness to cut short his controversy with 
the Battles. 

" I 've known about that for some time, Wallet/' said 
Mr. Baker ; " and let me tell you that you 're in much 
more danger of going to hell in the next hour than I am.' 
A whaleboat 's the safest thing that rides the sea. Maybe 
you did n't know it. And you 'd better shorten sail some 
more," he added, " if you hope to ride it out." 

For the only answer to this the mate — if he was the 
mate — and Mr. Wallet both turned and looked up at 
the sails. The men who had gone aloft had been engaged in 
reefing the topsails in a very leisurely manner. Now they 
had to put in another reef in response to orders yelled by 
the mate, and they worked faster. Mr. Baker came back to 
the whale, and the Battles slowly drifted to the south- 
ward, taking in her great mainsail and her foresail and 
two of her jibs, leaving her under staysail and double- 
reefed topsails. By the time that was done, she had got 
well away from us, and the black cloud covered half the 
heavens. Mr. Baker had rowed up to the whale, and had 
deliberately planted another iron deep in the small, near 
his first one. I asked no questions, but Mr. Brown must 
have read them in my face. 

"Getting ready to ride it out, Tim," he said, smiling 
kindly. We had nothing to do, having fifteen or twenty 
fathoms of line out, and he was leaning against the cleat, 
watching. " A whale 's a ready made sea-anchor, if he only 
stays afloat; and I guess he will. And we shall be in his 
lee, where the seas won't be quite so high — although 
there 's not much of the carcass showing." 

I turned and looked at the whale doubtfully. 

" I should think, sir," I ventured, " that Mr. Baker 
might foul us, or we him, if he has about the same length 
of line that we have." 

" No," Mr. Brown replied, smiling again. " A drifting 

184 SHE BLOWS! ' 

body always drifts broadside to the wind — to the resist- 
ance. I could prove that to you by mathematics if we had 
the chance, and if I had n't forgotten the proof. But ex- 
perience proves the proof to be correct, which is much 
more convincing than mere mathematics. You notice." 

I nodded. " Yes, sir, I will, if — " 

Mr. Brown laughed. " If we get out of this, eh? We 
shall. Make your mind easy." 

The carcass of the whale was lying nearly east and west 
under the northerly wind. As the squall — pampero or 
whatever it was — advanced, the wind dropped, until we 
were heaving on an oily swell in a flat calm. The men in 
Mr. Baker's boat took that chance of backing water, and 
of working the body of the whale slowly around until it 
lay very nearly north and south, while the squall was 
coming from the southwest. Then there was nothing to do 
but to watch the clouds, and to wait for the wind to strike. 

The edge of the cloud seemed to be directly over us, 
writhing and twisting, and it was almost as dark as night. 

" There she comes," said Mr. Brown quietly ; and I saw 
what seemed a blank wall of mist, with the black cloud 
above. We could see it some miles away, and it was com- 
ing fast. 

" Fog, sir ?" I asked, puzzled. 

" Rain, and hail, probably, and wind," said Mr. Brown. 

As it came on I could see the line of rain and hail, as 
sharp as the cut side of a cheese; and there was a queer 
foaming commotion in the water at the foot of the advanc- 
ing wall. It had got almost to the carcass of the whale 
before we felt the first cold puffs of air. Those first cold 
puffs were from every direction, some straight up; and 
the foaming commotion in the water resolved itself into 
an infinite series of small geysers, from one to two feet 
high, like columns of water sent up by explosions of shells, 
such as I have seen many times in the last few years when 
the Fort has been at target practice. At a distance of six 


or seven miles, even through a powerful glass, they look 
no higher than these did. 

The edge of the wall reached the carcass, and there was 
a curious effect of bombardment with small white rubber 
balls — I should have thought at once of tennis balls if I 
had then ever seen a tennis ball — the balls bounding high 
from the elastic surface of the carcass. I knew it then for 
hail. The wall was past the whale, and completely hid it 
from sight, less than a hundred feet off, and the wind 
struck us like a blow from a chunk of ice. Then the hail 
struck us, hail mixed with rain. 

We hardly knew what to do to protect our heads. It 
was like being pelted with rocks — rocks which there was 
no escaping. They were everywhere. I instinctively put 
up my hands over my head, and had to take them down 
again, for the bones of my hands were being bruised, 
and I was really afraid they might be broken. None of us 
had a stiff hat, but all wore soft hats or caps or were bare- 
headed. I did not mind the wind — I was not conscious 
of it — and I did not see what the others did ; but I found 
myself crawling in the bottom of the boat, partly under 
a thwart, and pulling out a corner of the sail to protect 
my head. When I had time to think of anything but the 
safety of my own head, I saw that the others had done 
the same thing. 

I looked out from my protecting canvas, and saw the 
water absolutely filled with those miniature geysers. The 
hail had beaten down the sea, in spite of the furious wind, 
until the surface was almost as smooth as a pond, with 
the rollers running under it as if the water were covered 
with silk. After a while — perhaps half an hour, perhaps a 
quarter — the hail stopped, and left only the rain and 
the wind, and the rapidly growing seas. We were sitting in 
a deep slush of water and hailstones, and the hailstones 
weighed heavily on my legs. They were beautiful, round, 
white stones, many as large as robins' eggs, but most of 


them the size of marbles. The boat was deep with them, 
and rolled sluggishly. We had to get them out at once, 
which we did with a couple of buckets, our hats and our 
hands, shoveling them over the side. 

I have never in my life known it to blow harder than 
it did in the next few hours. We rode it out, safe in the 
lee of our sea anchor, drenched to the skin, all of us, and 
very cold. Although the sea rose very quickly as soon as 
the hail stopped, and ran very high, the carcass of the 
whale seemed to smooth the seas out, and none broke 
around us; but the boats stood almost on end. My heart 
was in my mouth most of the time, but I do not think 
my apprehensions were evident to the others. Heaven 
knows I tried hard enough, for I was even more afraid of 
showing fear than I was of the wind and the sea. I think 
the fact that we were in a small boat, and near the water, 
was a help. I was more used to that, and, somehow, I never 
feel so helpless in a small boat as I do in a ship. I have 
not got over that feeling to this day. I suppose I should 
have felt better still if I had been alone or with no one but 
Jimmy Appleby. A man seems to have more of a chance in 
a small boat, and is not sub j ect to the orders — and the 
mistakes — of somebody. That somebody might be like 
Mr. Wallet. If there is a mistake, it is his own. 

Night fell while it was blowing viciously and raining. 
In a few hours the rain stopped, but the wind did not. It 
seemed to blow harder, and it gradually shifted to the 
southeast; and after a while the stars came out. I do not 
know how long it was, for I had lost all sense of time. 
I had got over the worst of my scare, and I was too tired 
to think. I crouched down in the boat, and I fell asleep, 
soaked and cold as I was. 

It was gray dawn when I awoke, stiff and cramped. I 
saw Mr. Brown in his place, gazing out at the eastern 
sky. He had been awake all night, ready to cut if the car- 
cass of the whale showed signs of sinking; but it was still 


afloat, and no lower in the water than it had been the 
night before. Mr. Baker's boat was so near that we could 
almost have touched oars. 

I made some noise in crawling out. Mr. Brown turned 
his head and smiled at me, but said nothing. I took that 
as a sort of an invitation. I got up and stood beside him, 
and we looked out together over that desolate waste of 
heaving gray water, with the white tops of breaking seas, 
and a faint touch of light here and there, and gray clouds 
driving over, but no color yet. I was oppressed with that 
feeling of melancholy and loneliness — and littleness — 
which always seized me at such a time. I think Mr. Brown 
felt it too. I looked around me, and saw two men evidently 
just awake, and the Prince standing like a statue, silent 
and dignified, gazing at the east. I could not help wonder- 
ing afresh what he was in his own country, and what was 
his own country. Whatever country it was, he ought to 
have been a chief in it — princeps — instead of being no 
more than a boatsteerer on a whaler, and the associate of 
men few of whom were his equals. If it had been the 
fashion to be black, instead of white, even the officers, ex- 
cepting Mr. Brown and Mr. Macy, would have been his 
acknowledged inferiors. 

There was no sign of the Battles or of the Clearchus — 
nothing within our horizon but the wide ocean, deep indigo 
in the distance, with great seas rolling and tumbling, dark 
green near the boat, their tops a ghastly white. After an 
hour or two my heart began to sink. How could it be ex- 
pected that anybody would find us, a speck in that vast 
and dreary expanse of ocean? Mr. Brown seemed con- 
fident enough, but my heart had sunk down into my soaked 
boots when, in the middle of the forenoon, he spoke to me. 
No doubt he guessed my feelings. They may have been 
evident enough. 

" See there, Tim ; almost abeam of us." 

We were streaming out to the northwest behind the 

188 . SHE BLOWS! 

whale. I looked, but I could see nothing but the tops of 
distant seas rising and falling. I shook my head. 

" Can't you make it out ? Three stubby topmasts, almost 
in line, and the to'gallan'yards ? If you knew them as well 
as I do — " 


He nodded. " I think so. I *m pretty sure." 

He was right, as he was apt to be. Mr. Baker had seen 
it too. The Clearchus picked us up before noon, got the 
whale alongside, and began to cut-in at once, rough and 
blowing as it was. She had been caught by the blow with 
Mr. Macy's whale alongside. They saw the blow coming, 
and tried to save the case, but they did not succeed, and 
the whale broke adrift, taking some of our tackle with it. 
They had to cut and run for it. We never saw that whale 

It moderated toward the middle of the afternoon, and 
by the time we were ready to try out, we had a clear sky 
and a gentle breeze* 


That was our last whale on these grounds, and we turned 
our nose again to the southwest, for the grounds off Pat- 
agonia. Nourishing the secret hope that we might land 
there, I carried the " Navigators " around in my pocket, 
and read over again and again the account of Magellan's 
visit — all to no purpose, as it turned out. We saw noth- 
ing of the Battles ; but she had a nasty habit of turning up 
when we thought we had lost her for good and least ex- 
pected to see her. She had become as a thorn in the flesh 
to Captain Nelson and Mr. Baker, especially to Mr. Baker. 
I really think that at this time it would have given him 
pleasure, as exquisite as he was capable of feeling, act- 
ually to see her, with his own eyes, go down in deep water 
or batter to pieces on a rocky shore. I know that he had 
reported to Captain Nelson his controversy with her, his 
unsuccessful effort to see Captain Coffin, and Wallet's 
message. Captain Nelson was angry for an instant, and 
his eyes darkened; then the whole thing seemed to strike 
his sense of humor, which he had in plenty. 

" Just as well," he said, " you did n't see Fred Coffin. 
I 'm going to see Fred sooner or later — the first chance 
I get. And that settles Wallet." 

We had good weather to the Patagonia grounds, mostly 
westerly and northerly winds, and pretty strong, but noth- 
ing in the way of weather could scare me now, after the 
Hatteras hurricane — of which we had nothing more than 
a flirt from the skirt — and my taste of pampero. The 
old ship made good time, as time goes for a whaler of her 
type, and we arrived on the grounds to the north of the 
Falklands in about a week. I was disappointed that we 
did not go even within sight of the mainland of Patagonia. 


Albatrosses were a fairly common sight, however, and 
made up to me somewhat for the lack of painted savages. 
In these latitudes there was almost always at least one of 
these great birds in sight, and although they were not 
always near the ship, they never failed to be on hand 
when the cook emptied his pail of scraps over the side. 
I never tired of watching their powerful, soaring flight. 
It seemed as if they played with the ship, like porpoises. 
They would keep along with us for a while, then suddenly 
shoot ahead or off to one side until they were almost out 
of sight, without a motion of the wings, so far as I could 
see. There must have been some slight motion of the wings 
to adjust themselves to the wind or to the vertical angle 
at which they were flying, but I could not detect it. 

There have been various explanations, none of which is 
quite satisfactory. One is that they make a long glide 
downward to get up speed ; and, having speed enough, they 
change their angle, and gain height. How they can do this 
indefinitely without an occasional flap, I never could see. 
Their slight rolling motion may do the trick, first on one 
wing and then on the other. I do not pretend to knowl- 
edge of the matter, but I am content to let a beautiful 
mystery remain a mystery. 

Whales were not plenty here. We took one in two weeks, 
and then we gave it up, and bore away for the Falklands, 
for Port Stanley. Here the captain went ashore, and we 
stood off shore and on for some hours. At this point and 
this season the current sets to the northeast about fifteen 
or twenty miles a day, and we made a rough allowance for 
that by standing off shore for thirty minutes, and on shore 
for thirty-five, until Captain Nelson came back. 

We had strong westerly winds for days, and the crew 
had much time to themselves. They used this time in mend- 
ing their clothes or in scrimshawing. Peter was getting on 
with his model, which was beginning to look like a glori- 
fied Clearchus, a tiny ghost of the ship. The masts were in 


place, and most of the yards, and he had finished one of 
the wee whaleboats, which he had hung at the davits. It 
was completely equipped, even to the harpoons, lances, 
and the bomb gun lying under the cleat, to which it was 
attached by a thread through the stock. 

Although my duties were not affected by the lightening 
of the duties of the crew, I could almost always find time 
for doing the things which I ought not to do, if I watched 
my chance. I studied rather harder in periods of a letting 
up of work, for at such times Mr. Brown could give me 
more attention. He seemed to like to do it; and I had 
reached a pitch of admiration for him which was almost 
worship, so that I did willingly and gladly anything which 
I thought would please him. He was pleased, I think, and 
satisfied. At any rate, he knew that I was doing my best, 
and he rewarded me with a greater intimacy than I had 
ever known with a man as much older than myself, not 
excepting even my father. True intimacy involves an equal 
footing, and that was what I never felt in the case of my 
father — never could feel, from the nature of the relation- 

There was always plenty of work for the carpenter and 
sailmaker and cooper, and I used to watch the boatsteer- 
ers overhauling the boat gear, and the consequent sharp- 
ening of harpoons and lances and spades. The sound of 
the grindstone was almost continuous. I had talks with 
Peter Bottom, of course, and some with the Prince. It 
was always hard to talk with him, for he had very little 
to say except with respect to the use of his especial tools 
and the chasing of whales. He would deliver long dis- 
courses upon this subject, and I might have profited 
greatly if it had been easier to understand him. I should 
have preferred to have him talk about his own country, 
which I was firmly convinced was a savage country, in 
which all the inhabitants wore nothing but straw skirts 
and nose rings and skewers through their lips; and where 


they stood around in groups, holding long spears and oval 
shields, like the pictures in my geography. 

They got out the remains of our stoven boat, and set 
it up near the carpenter's bench. When I got there the 
sailmaker and Peter Bottom were looking over the broken 
bones of the boat, feeling them, testing a rib or a plank 
here and there. They seemed to know what they were 
about, although they said nothing. It was just the way my 
father or one of his men would have gone about such a 
job. The very movements of the sailmaker, as he went to 
the pile of new cedar planking, and turned it over, and of 
Peter, as he picked out a piece of oak that suited him, re- 
minded me of my father's men. 

I stuck around for some time, watching their skilful, 
leisurely movements. I knew good ship carpentry when I 
saw it, for I had been observing it all my short life, and 
I had absorbed a good deal of the methods. My father's 
men worked rather faster, but not so very much. There is 
more actually accomplished by making your work count, 
and not wasting a stroke, than in merely keeping very 
busy. Peter was a better workman than the sailmaker, and 
there was no object whatever in working fast, for they 
had plenty of time. 

The boat was done, as good as new, in ten days, and 
then painted, and lashed, bottom up, on top of the after 
house. One result of Peter's work upon this boat was that 
thereafter he was a sort of unofficial ship's carpenter. 


We had the usual variations in weather, some good, some 
bad, but none very bad, to the Carroll grounds. For two 
thirds of the way the wind was mostly pretty strong from 
the west or southwest, giving the Clearchus what she liked 
best; for the last third of the way it drew in from the 
southeast, although we were not at any time in the region 
of the steady southeast trades, merely touching upon the 
border of that region toward the very last of the run. We 
ran into no gales, and made a passage of about five weeks, 
arriving on the Carroll grounds the last week in March. 
We then shortened sail, and began to cruise. It was the 
captain's intention to quarter the ground thoroughly once, 
making slowly to the southeast, which was the windward 
side, and then to beat up for the Cape. 

For a week we beat back and forth in fine weather with- 
out a sign of a whale. I had almost ceased to think of 
them, and spent my spare time in surreptitious games 
with Peter or with the group of men who were usually 
gathered about him; or I stood by the windlass or sat be- 
tween the knightheads — anywhere where I could not be 
spied from aft — and looked out ahead over the white- 
capped seas, feeling the brisk wind on my cheeks, and 
listening to the noise of the water under the bows, and to 
the gentle creaking of the spars and rigging. To me those 
are inexpressibly soothing sounds ; they have always been 
so, and are to this day. The noises of the life of the ship 
— not very loud at their worst, in such a case — are far 
behind you, and they come faintly to your ears, as if from 
another world. They do not seem real, as do the bubbling 
of the water under the bow, and the wash of it as it passes 


astern, and the faint noise of breaking seas, and the soft 
sound of the wind on the sails. 

That pleasant mode of life was not to last forever. One 
afternoon I was lying on my back on the heel of the bow- 
sprit. I had just finished my chores after dinner, and had 
lain down to gaze up at the sails, full and straining, and 
at the sky above them. My gaze travelled up the foremast, 
past the topsails, which were braced well around, for 
we were sailing with the wind forward of the beam. 
The fore truck described slow ellipses against the sky, and 
I was fascinated in watching them. Now and then I caught 
a glimpse, past the bellying topsail, of the masthead man. 
He seemed very far up. He was leaning wearily against 
the hoops, as if he might have been asleep. Suddenly he 
straightened alertly. I knew what to expect then, and I 
sat up as the cry floated down to me; then I jumped to my 
feet, and ran to Mr. Brown's boat. 

There were two spouts, about three miles to leeward, 
and the whales seemed to be travelling at about the same 
rate as the ship, and pretty near together. The spouts rose 
as regularly as the exhaust of a tugboat, although nowhere 
near as fast; there were ten or twelve seconds between 
them. The ship was laid around on a course nearly parallel 
with that of the whales, and we waited to see if they would 
not go down to feed. There was no sign of their doing so, 
however, and after waiting over twenty minutes, we 
lowered three boats. Our boat — that means Mr. Brown's 
— was one of the three. I took my place in it without 
asking leave, but as Mr. Brown looked right at me, and 
made no objection, and as the Prince even smiled at me, I 
thought it was probably what was expected. 
) By hard pulling we got right in the course of the whales, 
""Mr. Baker and ourselves taking the farther one, and Mr. 
Macy the nearer. Our whale was a little in advance of the 
other. Then we waited, our oars in our hands, to be ready 
for any change of course of the whales. Approaching a 



whale head on is one of the favorite ways, for a whale can- 
not see anything directly ahead of him, strange and in- 
convenient as that may seem. The whales came on in a bus- 
iness-like way, rising to spout, then pitching under, until 
they were perhaps within fifty or sixty feet of the boats. 
The Prince was all set to strike, and the four oarsmen 
gripping their oars hard, I, at least, with my nerves on 
edge. Then the whales brought up suddenly; stopped as 
completely as if they had run into a wall. Something had 
excited their suspicion, although the men in the boats were 
as still as death. Our whale — I should not have called 
him ours so soon — raised his head from the water, as if 
listening, and Mr. Baker and Mr. Brown signalled the 
men to pull up. It was only a little way, and the two boats 
almost leaped from the water. I could see nothing of the 
whale, pulling, as I was, with my back to him, and my eyes 
glued to the oar of the man in front of me, but I could 
imagine that whale pricking up his ears, if he had had 
any. Mr. Baker's boat was just abeam of us, to take him 
on his other side. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the 
men in her laying to it, and the spray flying from her bow. 
It is utterly useless to dart the harpoon at the front of 
a sperm whale. The weapon almost always bounds back 
as if it were a mass of rubber it had struck against. We 
had to get as far as his eye before a chance would be of- 
fered. I saw his great cliff-like head shoot by. Then, as we 
came within range of his vision, within ten feet of him, he 
suddenly sank away from the boat and out of sight like 
a lump of lead, without a motion of his fins, or his flukes 
either, so far as I could judge by hearing. The Prince 
had darted, and so had Starbuck — and had missed by 
inches, at ten feet. It was comical to see the consternation 
and amazement of Starbuck, and I have no doubt the 
Prince's surprise was nearly as great, although he would 
not show it so plainly. I did hear a grunt from him, how- 
ever, and an exclamation. The harpoons had clashed under 


water. When they were hauled in, the Prince found the 
shank of his bent, and a gouge, fresh and bright, deep in 
the shank at the point of bending; and the edge of Star- 
buck's was dulled and turned. 

Mr. Macy's boat, with George Hall the boat-steerer, 
had an exactly similar experience. Mr. Macy had not 
headed that boat long enough to overcome entirely the 
effect of Wallet's slackness and generally slipshod way of 
doing things, and his crew did not respond quite so quickly 
or so well. Consequently his whale had just enough warn- 
ing to begin to move, but not enough time to get under 
way, or to find out definitely what was up. His only escape 
was to sink from the head of the boat as quickly as a 
marlinspike that has been dropped overboard, or an 
anchor. Hall, however, had no chance to dart, and he had 
had experience enough to know it. We did not see those 
whales again except at a distance which was perfectly 
safe, and then they were swimming head out, making ten 
or twelve knots. 

Later in the day I came upon a sort of a consolation 
gathering. Starbuck and the Prince and George Hall were 
the central figures, and there were the other two boat- 
steerers, Azevedo and Miller, and all the green hands 
standing on the fringe of the circle, with two or three 
older men. Starbuck was much mortified at his failure, 
and offered what excuse he could. The Prince may have 
been as much mortified as Starbuck, but he offered no 
excuse and said little. Hall was giving comfort, saying 
that it was not uncommon for whales to settle in that way, 
and escape, when they had no time to round out flukes and 
sound, although he did not see how they did it. No har- 
pooner was to be blamed for missing a whale under those 

Then there was a babel of voices, each man who had 
seen it happen and thought about it at all — a man could 
hardly help thinking about it if he had once seen it — 


giving his own theory of how it was done. They seemed to 
run to the idea of interior ballast tanks. Hall smiled. 

" It does not seem quite quick enough," he said. " The 
whale would have to take in water ballast pretty sudden 
to sink as quick as he does. Besides, water won't sink in 
water. If he could take in lead or old junk into his tanks, 
it would be different. I know that gannets have something 
like that, cells under the skin that they can fill or empty 
of air through their lungs; and man-o'-war birds have 
something of the kind, I believe, and so have other birds. 
I 've seen 'em and you 've all seen 'em. They seem to 
contract when they want to get down pretty quick. But I 
don't pretend to know how a whale does it." 

There was more talk which I could not follow. After 
a while Azevedo asked Hall about what he called the 
" slick " or " glip," and how he thought that communica- 
tion was kept up. I did not know what they were talking 
about, of course. Hall shook his head, and said he had 
never seen any evidence of communication, although he 
had heard of it, but he would not commit himself on the 
subject, and he asked Peter. Peter said that he did not 
know anything about it. 

" What is that, Peter ?" I asked in an undertone. 
" What 's glip ? " I knew what a slick was. 

" I don't rightly know, Tim," he answered. " Whales 
always leave a slick — a smooth place, oily-like — on the 
water when they round out and sound quietly. It must be 
something like the oil bags we had over our bows in that 
gale off Hatteras. But they say that there 's a sort of a 
telegraph between the whale and his slick — as far as I 
can make out, that there 's a way the whole school has 
of knowing if a boat so much as crosses the line between 
a whale and his slick. So, if a boat gets into the slick, or 
crosses that line, the whole school goes tearing to wind- 
ward. It may be so," he added, shaking his head. " I 
don't say it ain't, for you hear of many curious things at 


sea that turn out to be true, but it seems a trifle too much 
like magic to me. So I say that I don't know anything 
about it, and that 's true enough. I don't." 

I laughed. To me it seemed like a fairy tale; but, as 
Peter had said, you hear of many curious things at sea 
which turn out to be true, and this might be one of them. 
If it is true I can think of no possible explanation. I do 
not know the truth of the matter to this day. 

A few days later we sighted another spout. Mr. Brown 
and Mr. Baker lowered for him, for they said that the 
Prince and Starbuck ought to have another chance. This 
was a lone whale, which very obligingly waited for us to 
come up with him, and both boats got fast. He put up no 
fight at all, and in a quarter of an hour he lay fin out. This 
was the sort of thing that disgusted me with whaling, and 
made it seem nothing more than a bloody, dirty business, 
which tended to brutalize the men who took part in it. A 
whale should be willing — determined — to fight for his 
life, if it was worth anything to him. A fight made it all 
worth while, and the better the fight the more worth while 
it seemed, to me, at any rate. The prospect of a good fight 
always did fill me with elation, in spite of myself. I con- 
fess that it does even now, in spite of my age and experi- 
ence, which has been acquired uniformly in the avoidance 
of fights ; but any kind of a fight seems good to me, in my 
heart of hearts. It is a reprehensible instinct, but it is just 
as surely an instinct as it is reprehensible according to our 
modern code. 

This whale may not have regarded his life as of suf- 
ficient value to be worth fighting for. At any rate, his 
actions and appearance aroused suspicions, and when he 
was cut-in the suspicions were apparently confirmed, for 
the blubber was light and dry. Accordingly, instead of cut- 
ting the carcass adrift, they cut into it, and proceeded to 
investigate his internal economy with spades and knives. I 
hung over the rail and watched the operation with much 


interest. It reminded me of the occasion, five or six years 
before, when Jimmy Appleby and I had dissected two 
rats, with rather dull knives, on the top of his high back 
fence. We got thoroughly smeared with blood and gurry, 
but found nothing of value, and did not add to our infor- 
mation on the subject of rats. The whale was much the 
same, so far as I could see. The men got very thoroughly 
smeared, but they found nothing of value. 

While we were in the midst of this bloody business, 
and most of the men who were not engaged in it were 
hanging over the rail, as J was, I felt a tap upon my 
shoulder. I turned and saw Peter, who took me to the 
port side. 

" Look there, Timmie," he said, pointing. 

I had no trouble in seeing what he was pointing at. It 
was the Annie Battles, only three or four miles off, and 
headed directly for us. There was a brisk breeze, which 
she had just forward of the beam, very nearly her best 
point of sailing. She was coming fast, and was a pretty 
sight, I thought. Peter had the same thought. We watched 
her in silence for some minutes, and then he sighed and 
shook his head. 

" A pretty sight," he said, " and an able boat. There 's 
aone better, and it 's a pity." 

"A pity that there's none better?" I asked. 

" A pity that it should mean trouble every time she 
heaves in sight. I don't know what kind of mischief she 's 
up to this time, but look at our officers, lad. They don't 
know either, but they expect trouble of some kind. Would 
n't you think so yourself? " 

Captain Nelson, with Mr. Baker, Mr. Brown and Mr. 
Macy, was standing just forward of the after house, his 
glass at his eye. None of the four were saying anything, 
but all were gazing soberly at the Battles, which held her 
course as if she meant to run us down. The captain said 
something in a low tone to Mr. Baker, who nodded and 
started leisurely forward. 


" I wish," said Peter, " that she 'd leave us alone, and 
get about her business. It 's over two months since we 've 
seen her, and I hoped that was the last. But she seems to 
be keeping tabs on us, and to know just where to find us. 
She '11 keep turning up, like enough, all through our 
voyage, just when we 've begun to forget her. I 'd give 
something to know what tbey 're up to. What does she 
want, anyway? What is she doing it for?" 

It is very likely, even in the light of our later knowledge 
of the Annie Battles, that they were not up to anything 
in particular, and did not want anything except to plague 
us, and exasperate us, and set us all to wondering just as 
they were doing. At sea, on a long voyage, with a faster 
vessel, and the certainty of being able to sail around us in 
any weather, that exasperation could be carried to a high 
pitch. We had no means of knowing what was going on 
in the Battles ; but, all this granted, I could not guess their 
motive. It was possible that they were after our whales, 
but Captain Coffin was an able whaling master, and if that 
was the explanation — I put the question to Peter. 

" Oh, no, lad," he replied quickly. "If that was the 
reason, they *d just stay with us — dog us about. They 
don't do that, but — Aye, aye, sir." 

For Mr. Baker had come up to us, and was telling Peter 
to go to his boat, but not to hurry. They did not want any 
stir on the decks. Then he passed on to tell others of his 
crew the same thing. Mr. Macy was strolling about the 
deck on a similar errand. One by one the men drifted down 
to their boats, cast off the lashings, and stood with the 
falls in their hands, ready to lower. The Battles was still 
coming on, headed directly for us. She was a mile away, 
and the men stood like statues by their boats ; the distance 
diminished to a half-mile and then to a quarter. There was 
a deep silence on the ship, while the noise of the surgeons 
at the operating-table rose to us over the starboard rail. 
They knew nothing of the Battles. When the schoone* 


was a cable's length away she was still heading directly 
for us, and seemed likely to strike us amidships. 

It was too much for Mr. Baker. " Ahoy, there ! " ho 
roared. " Damn you, do you want to run us down?" 

" Are you there?" cried a jeering voice from the Battles. 
" Why don't you lower?" 

As the sound of the voice reached us, however, the 
Battles kept off a little, so that she would just clear our 
stern. Captain Nelson nodded, and Mr. Macy lowered in- 
stantly, cast off, and the men pulled hard to intercept her. 
They did not quite succeed in doing that, and the Battles 
swept by with her main chains about six inches beyond 
the utmost reach of Hall's boathook. Hall made an instant 
decision. Throwing down the boathook, he grabbed a har- 
poon, to which the whale line was already bent, and darted 
with all his force at the chains of the Battles. The har- 
poon stuck in the hull and quivered there for a moment, 
between the chains ; then, as strain came on it, it pulled out, 
having nothing to hold it, the barb caught on the chains, 
and there they were towing as comfortably as ever they 
did behind a whale. 

From the deck of the Battles there came a roar for a 
sharp spade, while Mr. Macy was exhorting his men to 
heave and heave hearty. There were only a few feet to 
gain, for the whaleboat was almost lapping the hull of the 
schooner. What they would have done when they had 
gained a place under her quarter I could not imagine. I 
wondered. Mr. Macy might have been in the same pre- 
dicament, but it was not likely. He was not the man to go 
ahead without plan, and he was working as if for a definite 
end. What that plan was we were not to know, for the 
spades succeeded in severing the line before the hulls 
lapped, and the frayed end dropped into the water. It was 
fortunate, perhaps. Whnt chance would six men have had 
against twenty or more? 

In the brief struggle the Battles had gone on farther 


than she meant to, and was now some distance astern of 
us; but as soon as she had succeeded in dropping Mr. 
Macy she stood up along our starboard beam, a short 
distance away. Meanwhile, Mr. Baker's boat had been 
lowered, taking the captain, and had pulled out a few 
boat's lengths, and lay there, waiting for the Battles. 
The men who had been working on the carcass of the 
whale had stopped work, and stood watching to see what 
would happen. 

The Battles came on until she was nearly abeam of us, 
then she slacked off her sheets, spilling the wind from 
her sails. Her crew seemed interested in the surgical op- 
eration on the whale. 

" Did you find any?" hailed the man who seemed to be 
in command. 

Captain Nelson paid no attention to this question, but 
his men pulled toward the schooner. 

" What do you want ? " the man demanded sharply. 
" Keep off ! Stay where you are, and let's settle it." 

" I 'm coming aboard of you," Captain Nelson said. 
" I 'm coming to see Cap'n Coffin. There are some matters 
to be settled between us." 

The Battles was shooting ahead, losing way slowly, and 
the men in the captain's boat again began pulling. 

" You can't see Cap'n Coffin," the man began im- 
patiently. " You 've been told that often enough. Damn 
it," he added, almost changing his mind, "if I should 
let you come aboard and see Cap'n Coffin, I 'd warrant 
you 'd have all the time you wanted to settle any matters 
that 're on your mind. It 'd serve you right, and if the 
consequences 'd be all on your own head, I 'd do it. But 
they would n't and I won't. I never will. Understand ? " 

We heard the conversation plainly, and I was curious 
to know what he meant by his remark about consequences. 
It did not seem to give Captain Nelson any concern. He 
made no reply, and the boat continued to pull toward the 


schooner. Mr. Macy had been coming up quietly while 
the Battles was busy with Captain Nelson, and he was not 
far astern, his men pulling strongly and easily. We heard 
the order to trim in the sheets, and at the same time 
several men took their places at the side, holding spades 
in their hands. It was their old trick. The captain's boat 
was only a few strokes off. 

" Keep off ! " was the warning. 

For answer Starbuck grabbed for the chains with the 
boathook. A spade smashed down upon it and knocked it 
out of his hand. The sheets of the Battles had been 
trimmed in, she heeled to the breeze, began to gather 
speed, and was slowly passing the bow of the boat. Star- 
buck leaped, landed on her wales, and had one leg over 
the rail before the men on the Battles knew what he was 
after. Before he could get the other leg over, three men 
seized him; I saw them struggle with him for an instant, 
break his hold on the rail, and throw him into the sea. 

The Battles was now well under way, the boat was fast 
dropping astern, and Starbuck was in the water. Mr. 
Macy was not quite up, and it was a hopeless chase from 
the start, but both boats tried to make a race of it for a 
quarter of a mile. When they gave it up, and stopped 
rowing, I saw Wallet come out from behind the quarter 
boat, where he had been standing, hidden from us, and 
take his place at the topsail. It was too far to see clearly 
without a glass what he was doing there, but he seemed 
to put his thumb to his nose at Mr. Baker and the cap- 
tain. That was too much for me, and I laughed until I 
nearly had hysterics, it was so like him. 

The boats lay there for some time, the men all watch- 
ing the Battles fast disappearing in the distance. Then 
they pulled slowly back to the ship. Starbuck had swum 
to the ship, and stood dripping beside me, watching the 
Battles with sober eyes. When I laughed so immoder- 
ately, he turned his eyes upon me with disapproval, but he 


took the contagion, and, much against his will, he was 
forced to smile. 

" But it 's no laughing matter, Tim," he said. " I 'd like 
to know what 's wrong on that vessel. There 's something 
wrong. I know Fred Coffin well. We live only a few doors 
apart — only two houses between us, and we were at school 
together. He is n't so much older than me ; three years, 
about. I hope nothing 's happened to him." 

" Why," I said, " what could happen to him — on his 
own vessel ? " 

" Anything," Starbuck answered. " Anything at all. 
Ever hear the story of the ship Junior and Cap'n Arch 
Mellen? It happened in fifty-eight, or fifty-seven, but it's 
all true, and it might happen now — any time, unless 
men's hearts are changed." 

" Tell me," I said eagerly. " I never heard of it; I 
never even heard of the ship Junior." 

He smiled down at me ; after all, not so much down, for 
I was nearly as tall as he. 

" There 's a good many ships you never heard of, I 
guess. I '11 tell you the story of the ship Junior, the first 
chance I get. The boats are coming back now, and I want 
to get into dry clothes." 

By the time the boats were on the davits the Battles 
was more than hull down to the southward, and was fast 
•inking her topsails. 


We cleared up our whale as soon as we could. He made 
only thirty-three barrels, and we laid our course for the 
Cape with a total of three hundred and thirty-five barrels 
of oil in the hold. That seemed very little to show for nine 
months' work, but Peter comforted me somewhat. He did 
not seem to mind. It was all in the day's work to him. 

" I know, Timmie, lad," he said. " Whales have got 
scarce as hen's teeth in the Atlantic Ocean. But the whal- 
ing fleet 's not what it was fifteen years ago when there 
were over three hundred vessels hailing from New Bed- 
ford. Give the whales thirty years or so, and they '11 be 
back there. We '11 find plenty on the New Zealand grounds 
or off Japan, or some other nice quiet place. We'll have 
a full ship yet, but it may take us three years more." 

The fact that we had little oil to show did not bother 
me very much. I would have kept on with a contented 
spirit if we had not had any oil. It was not for a few bar- 
rels of oil that I had embarked on this cruise. 

We followed the course of the Battles, not because it 
was her course, but because it was the quickest way to get 
to the Cape. The wind held for some days in the south- 
east, so that we headed a little west of south; then it 
hauled to the westward, and into the northwest, blowing 
hard. That was just what we wanted, and we laid our 
course straight for Cape Town. The northwest wind did 
not stay with us long, but we had made enough southing to 
be able to hold our course when the wind changed to the 
southeast again, which it did very soon. There are few 
gales in this part of the ocean at this season, and we were 
lucky enough not to get any; but for two days we drifted 
about in calms and light, variable airs, and there was a 


current or ocean drift to the northward, which set us hack 
about a mile an hour while we held our southerly course. 

Starbuck told us the story of the ship Junior while we 
were on that southerly course. Our crew was much im- 
pressed by the story, old as it was. Some of them — most 
of the white men in the crew — had heard it before, but 
many had not. One by one they drifted into the circle 
about Starbuck, drawn by the lure of a yarn being spun. 
They did not interrupt him, and their faces were serious 
as they listened. Peter was one of those who had not heard 
the story. 

" Mutiny never pays," he said when Starbuck had 
finished, " does it, mates ? " 

There were some muttered objections. 

" No," said Peter again. " It never pays. If a mutiny 
is successful it only means that the men never dare show 
themselves in civilized parts again. If it is unsuccessful — 
well, who wants to die in prison ? And, for my part, I 'd 
rather be shot than hanged. 'T would be interesting, now, 
to know what became of the men who were n't taken. 
They may have made some island in the South Seas, and 
have lived in some bodily comfort for two or three years. 
But 't is much more likely that they found themselves on 
the beach at one port after another, and could n't ship in 
anything, even if they got the chance, without fear in their 
hearts. Probably they died in jail, after all, or had their 
throats cut by Chinese or Malay pirates. You don't hap- 
pen to know, Starbuck ? " 

Starbuck shook his head. 

" If a man is unlucky enough to find himself in a ship 
where there 's hard usage," Peter went on, " the best 
thing he can do is to put up with it until he gets ashore 
again. Then he can make a call on the American consul. 
Even life in a South Sea island gets tedious after a while. 
A sailorman gets tired of lying on a mat and having his 
breadfruit and yams and chickens and coconuts brought 


to him. If he 's got the spirit of the sailor he can't stand 
that very long, even if they don't make their kings cut 
their throats in public every twelve years, which used to 
be the vile custom in Malabar. There was a shipmate of 
mine, thirty years back, that deserted somewhere in the 
South Seas, and got to one o' these islands, and got to be 
king of it. He was glad to get away after two years of it 
— had to sneak out." 

There was clamor for the yarn. Just as Peter had 
cleared his throat, and was about to begin it, his watch 
was called. 

" Aye, aye, sir," he said. Then he turned to the others 
with a twinkle in his eye. " You see. Hard usage, I call 
it, to give a man no chance to spin a good yarn. Down- 
right oppression, that 's what it is." 

I never heard that yarn of Peter'*. 


The day before we got into Cape Town I wrote a short 
letter home, and enclosed my journal. We came to in 
Table Bay the next morning, with the mass of Table 
Mountain looming to the eastward, and Devil's Peak and 
the Lion's Head and Signal Hill enclosing the town. The 
crew had liberty ashore, in relays, and the first boatload of 
liberty men were off within an hour. I do not know how 
the men spent their precious liberty. 

We laid in a stock of fresh provisions, and got off our 
mail, and found some mail for the ship, but there was 
nothing for me. The captain attended to some other bus- 
iness, but I do not know what. He did not ship a man to 
take the vacant place, and we had two vacant places 
when we left in the afternoon of the second day, for a 
green hand, a Portuguese named Silvia from Mr. Macy's 
boat, turned up missing. Mr. Tilton made a brief search 
for him, but did not find him, and we could not wait. 
Most of the other men were rounded up drunk, or just 
recovering from that happy state, and really not respon- 

Mr. Snow, our fourth mate since the promotions after 
Mr. Wallet's defection, a nervous, irascible little man, be- 
came very much enraged at one of the men from his own 
boat. The man's name was Silver — perhaps unfortu- 
nately resembling Silvia, the name of the man who was 
missing. He was a green hand too, if a man is still green 
after eight months at sea. Mr. Snow addressed a sarcastic 
remark to Silver — or Silva — bearing upon that resem- 
blance of names, and Silver, as might have been expected, 
answered him in a surly manner, calling him a fussy little 
busybody, or less agreeable words to the same effect. Of 


course it was no fault of Silver's that his name was like 
Silvia's, or that Silvia was not to be found, but he would 
not have answered Mr. Snow as he did if he had been 
feeling like himself, or if he had been to sea long enough 
to know the unwisdom of it. 

Mr. Snow hesitated and sputtered and got red in the 
face, but said nothing after all, and fumed off aft. The 
rest of the men rather expected that Silver might be put 
in irons, but nothing came of the matter then, except that 
Silver had the permanent ill-will of his boatheader. That 
is not a state of affairs generally cultivated. 

We stood around the Cape, keeping well out to sea to 
avoid the current which sets to the southwest and west 
along the shore of the African continent and for about a 
hundred and fifty miles from it, more or less. The surface 
currents all through the Indian Ocean are strong and 
tricky. Off Durban or Port Natal the current runs south- 
westerly at very nearly three or four knots at this season, 
and it was worth while not to get into it, especially for a 
ship like the Clearchus, which could not be depended upon 
to sail faster than five or six knots. By keeping a couple 
of hundred miles to the southward we got into the easterly 
drift and the west wind, and we held that course to about 
S5° east longitude, gradually turning to the north for the 
Mozambique Channel. 

The mastheads were kept manned all this time, but it 
was hardly expected that we would sight any whales, and 
I suspect that there was little desire to see any. The wind 
held generally strong from the westward until we were 
on our way north. We sighted the southwest coast of Mad- 
agascar, but it got no nearer than a low-lying purple line, 
and we swung away to the northwest until we sunk it. 

Madagascar is nearly a thousand miles long, and from 
three to five hundred miles from the coast of Africa, the 
narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, opposite Mo- 
zambique, being about two hundred and sixty miles broad. 


We were therefore well out of sight of land almost all 
the time that we cruised in those waters. Although the 
wind was southerly — the southeast trades — and by all 
the I rules we should have run directly through the Chan- 
nel and beat slowly back again, we did not do so, but 
steered a zigzag course, wearing ship as we approached 
either side of the Channel. The captain was so certain of 
seeing whales there that he did not want to miss the first 
chance, and that chance was as likely to come one way as 

The chance came when we had been in the Channel four 
days and were on the second leg of our zigzag. I was 
busy in the cabin, but I heard the faint musical cry, " Ah 
— bl-o-ows ! " I dropped everything, and ran on deck. 
It was early, breakfast being just over. There they were 
to the east of us, three beautiful plumes rising to- 
gether, shining in the sun, drifting for a moment, and dis- 
solving gradually into nothing. We manoeuvred for po- 
sition — if it is proper to speak of anything as clumsy as 
the Clearchus as manoeuvring — and waited for the 
whales to sound. They took their time about it, at which 
I did not wonder. It was very pleasant at the surface in 
the sun, and they lay lazily at their length, spouting now 
and then. We got to windward of them, and as near as 
the captain thought was safe — a gallied whale is hard to 
get. Still they did not go down, and we lowered four boats ; 
all but Mr. Macy's. The boats were put into the water 
carefully, so as not to make a splash that the whales 
would hear, they cast off in silence, and the men took to 
their paddles. I counted as a man, for I was at what was 
getting to be my usual place in Mr. Brown's boat. 

We were next to Mr. Snow in the circle in which the 
boats were spreading, and a little ahead of him. I did not 
look at Mr. Snow, for my eyes were otherwise occupied. 
I was aware of him, however, and knew that he was al- 
ternately looking briefly at the whales and glaring mal- 


evolently at the back of Silver, who rowed tub oar. Silver, 
although he wielded his paddle industriously, was aware 
of it too, and it made him nervous, so that he became awk- 
ward. Mr. Snow had put in his time since leaving Cape 
Town largely in gazing malevolently at Silver. He was a 
little thunder-cloud, threatening always, but doing no 
damage, except to haze Silver — haze meaning to punish 
by hard work, unnecessary usually, and as hard as possible 
— whenever he had the chance. This attitude had resulted 
in his becoming overbearing to the rest of his crew, and 
he was fast getting to be the most unpopular officer on the 
ship. Silver was not a little frightened, for he did not 
know what he might have said or done to Mr. Snow. He 
had been in a condition of irresponsibility at the time, and 
he could not remember. I had overheard him asking one 
man after another what it was, but they were in no better 
case for remembering, and could give him no comfort. 

Silver now became so awkward with his paddle that he 
missed the water altogether — caught a crab — and fell 
forward on his knees, striking the oars and making a tre- 
mendous rattling and rumbling. We were not far from 
the whales, and no respectable whale could avoid hearing 
that noise of wood on wood, like beating a great tom-tom. 
They cocked up their ears for an instant, but the oars were 
still rolling about, Silver frantically grabbing at them, 
and the whales simultaneously raised their flukes high, 
and went down. Mr. Baker, on the other side of Mr. Snow, 
launched a string of curses at Mr. Snow's boat for his 
carelessness, for he had been on the point of signalling 
Starbuck to stand up, he was so near his whale. Mr. Snow, 
in turn, cursed Silver up and down. It was rather start- 
ling to hear such a flow of language from such a man. 
Mr. Snow, just to see him in his usual state, made you 
think of a Sunday-School teacher. 

Mr. Brown looked up wearily. I knew him well enough 
to be sure that he was thinking that cursing would not 


get them anywhere. Mr. Snow appeared to be of the same 
opinion, for he stopped his cursing abruptly. We lay on 
our oars, which we had taken as soon as Silver caught his 
crab, and waited for the whales. 

We were near the middle of the arc, which was not very 
wide, not above an eighth of a mile for the four boats, for 
the whales had been bunched. We lay still, but the outer 
boats pulled hard to make the arc wider. In about twenty 
minutes the whales came up, just beyond the outermost 
boat to the westward. That happened to be Mr. Tilton's. 
Then came our own, then Mr. Snow's, and Mr. Baker on 
the eastward end. Mr. Tilton was an experienced whale- 
man, and he felt sure enough that we should not get any 
of those whales, for he saw that they were gallied just 
enough to be very wary, and not to lose track of the boats 
for a second. There was a chance, however, and he took 
it, as he was in duty bound to do. He could not get near 
enough to dart, and the whales went under again, not 
deep, but swimming under water. They came up at the 
opposite end of the line, and Mr. Baker thought that he 
had a chance, but he did not have any better success than 
Mr. Tilton. Then the whales rose again between us and 
Mr. Snow. We pulled hard for them, but they easily got 
through to windward, lay there and waited for us. 

Those three whales seemed to enjoy the sport. They 
had us where they wanted us, to leeward of them, and 
they gave us the hardest kind of work for four hours. We 
were in the region of the southeast trades, which drew in 
from the southward, and there was a combing sea, hard 
to pull against. We all knew that the whales had all the 
best of it, but they would bring to just out of reach, tan- 
talizing us, egging us on with the thought that this time 
we had them ; but before any boat had got near enough to 
dart, they would up flukes or settle out of reach, only to 
come up again just near enough to tempt us afresh. I 
have no doubt it was fun for the whales, but it was na 


fun for the men. My muscles and my hands were sore and 
aching when we were signalled from the ship to give it up 
and come aboard. Mr. Baker did not want to give it up 
even then. He was fighting mad — it did not take very 
much to make Mr. Baker fighting mad, and the thought 
that three common, ordinary whales could have fun with 
him was almost too much. I think that he would have 
liked to make mince-meat of them. Fortunately, the ship 
was well to leeward, and we sailed back. Those three 
whales followed us back almost to the ship. They seemed 
to feel hurt because we would not play any longer. I had, 
and I still have, a great admiration for those whales. 
There was no malice in them, and they had only been in- 
dulging in a game of tag. I was glad to think that we had 
left them unhurt in their element, instead of drifting car- 
casses to be stripped bare by birds and sharks. 

We saw several whales on our way up the Channel, but 
they were wild, and we got none of them. We did not 
even get fast, but had a good many hours of heartbreaking 
pulling. Opposite Mozambique, about a hundred miles 
offshore, more or less, the Prince got an iron into one, 
but it drew, and the whale got away. I overheard Captain 
Nelson talking to Mr. Baker, one day, about the wildness 
of the whales. He seemed to think it evidence that they 
had been chased a good deal, and to be inclined to abandon 
the Channel at once, and keep right on to the northward 
to the Seychelles. Mr. Baker did not combat the captain's 
opinion openly, but he was so obviously disappointed and 
so confident that we should do better on the return trip 
through the Channel that the captain did not insist upon 
it. We had seen no whalers. 

I had been having my lessons — my hours with Mr. 
Brown — pretty regularly, right along. When we had to 
chase, or had a whale alongside, of course we had to give 
it up, but we had not been interrupted by cutting-in and 
trying-out for about two months. I had added the study 


of geography to the curriculum. I wanted to know more 
about the regions which we visited, and although there 
was usually nothing to be seen but a vast expanse of 
ocean, I knew that there was some land near, and the 
fact was a stimulus to the acquisition of knowledge about 
it, whatever it was. There was not a geography on the 
ship, but it was no loss worth mentioning. I got what I 
could from the maps and charts we had, and Mr. Brown 
supplied the rest, for he highly approved the broadening 
of the curriculum, although it gave him more work. Al- 
ready I could almost put my finger on some islands which 
I had never heard of at school, and Mauritius and Re- 
union were as definite as Nashawena and Cuttyhunk. I 
had seen Bazaruta from a distance, although my geogra- 
phy authority at school — a gentle, modest girl, who 
probably had very little more definite ideas on the sub- 
j ect than I had — had never heard of such an island. 
Almost every whaling captain knew it pretty well, for it 
was a place to get wood. It was a different thing actually 
to see the low-lying coast of Africa, south of Mozam- 
bique, or the bold shores north of it, with a glimpse of 
the high table-land behind, from what it was to read 
vaguely about them all, quietly seated at my desk in 
North Street. I knew the general shape of Madagascar, 
and thought of it as a good enough island of moderate size, 
with the Mozambique Channel perhaps thirty miles wide. 
It came to me with somewhat of a shock to find that the 
Channel was five times as wide as from New Bedford to 
Nantucket, and that Madagascar was about as long as 
from New Bedford to Chicago. Chicago was less impor- 
tant in 1872 than it is now, and it was less than a year 
since Mrs. Kelly's cow had kicked over the lamp, the bea- 
con that led to greatness. 

On our beat south through the Channel, we had better 
luck. We had many unsuccessful chases, but we got three 
whales ranging from sixty to seventy barrels each. There 


was no excitement in it; about as much as there would 
have been in slaughtering three mild-eyed cows. That 
was just what it was, simple slaughter. But we had our 
excitement before we got out of the Channel. 

It was as we were getting to the southern mouth of the 
Channel. I remember that we were not far from Baza- 
ruta Island, for Peter had just been pointing out to me 
the place where it was. He said that he could see it, but 
I could not. He looked away for a moment, and was giv- 
ing me some further information, when he saw the spout. 
At the instant the cry came down from the masthead. It 
was a lone spout, the spout of a lone whale, so far as we 
could see. 

We lowered two boats for him, Mr. Brown's and Mr. 
Macy's. Largely by good luck Mr. Macy got to the whale 
first, and Hall sunk his two irons in him. It was a good 
strike, and the irons were sunk to the hafts. The whale 
showed ugly right away. He went down a little, and ran 
under water, taking out nearly two tubs of line. They had 
just managed to snub the line somewhat, and were begin- 
ning their ride after him, with the line still smoking 
around the loggerhead, when suddenly he stopped, turned 
quickly, and came back at them. He came at full speed, 
head out, his jaw hanging down at nearly a right angle, 
meaning mischief with it. Mr. Macy saw it, of course, and 
so did Hall. Hall tried to lay the boat around with the 
steering oar, out of the course of the whale, but the great 
length of line hanging over the bow was almost like an 
anchor. The men were heaving it in as fast as they could. 
Macy ordered them to their oars, and with oars and steer- 
ing oar together Hall just managed to get them partly 
out of the way of the whale. He turned half over, and 
struck the boat a glancing blow with his jaw, however, 
stove a couple of planks, and rolled her over. We saw her 
rise — she did not really leave the water — and come 
down bottom side up. While she was coming down we 
heard the crash of the splintering planks. 


Most of the men had jumped out just before the whale 
struck them, and one or two had been thrown out, but we 
could not be sure, from where we were, whether all were 
accounted for or not. We pulled hard for them, and when 
we had come up Mr. Brown counted heads. 

" Where 's Macy ? " he asked sharply. 

Before anybody could answer Mr. Macy's head popped 
up, beside the overturned boat. The boat had come down 
over him, and he had dived out. The men were grabbing 
oars and pieces of plank — anything that would keep them 
afloat ■ — and were swimming away from the wreck as fast 
as they could. Mr. Brown saw that they all had some- 
thing to hang on to, and that another boat had been low- 
ered from the ship, and was coming up fast. 

" You 're all right," he said. " Hold on, and I '11 try to 
coax him away." 

Macy laughed. ** You 're welcome to it," he said. 

The whale had been lying a short distance away, 
thrashing his flukes about truculently, and moving from 
side to side. In the course of his movements he caught 
sight of the wrecked boat, and it seemed to excite his rage 
afresh. He at once came down for it, his jaw down, and 
struck at it with his jaw; but he did but little damage, 
only smashing another plank, as the boat rolled away. 
The men were swimming away as fast as they could. The 
whale came to a short distance from the wreck, turned, 
and again came down viciously. 

He had not seen our boat, although it was in plain 
sight; at any rate, he had taken no notice of it. Perhaps 
his mind was so occupied with the immediate object of 
his wrath that it had no room for anything else. Before 
he reached the wrecked boat, we struck, the Prince dart- 
ing both irons, one after the other, with great rapidity, and 
with all his strength. They almost disappeared in his 
body, just behind his side fin. This distracted his atten- 
tion from the wreck completely. He was clearly aston- 


ished, and striking the water two tremendous blows with 
his flukes, and drenching everybody in the boat, he put 
away to windward at a great pace. 

He went so fast, and made so much play with his 
flukes, that we could not haul alongside. He seemed to be 
rolling a little as he swam, and the play of the flukes cov- 
ered the course the boat would have to take. There was 
nothing to do but the best we could. We hauled up with 
great difficulty just astern of the great flukes, and Mr. 
Brown tried pitch-poling the boat spade into his small, to 
cut the fluke tendons. This was a difficult matter, in a 
rolling, jumping boat, and in three trials Mr. Brown suc- 
ceeded only in wounding the flukes, which served to in- 
crease the speed. We simply had to haul up close, and we 
did it somehow, the Prince keeping us clear of the flukes 
by great exertion at the steering oar. I do not see how he 
did it, and I did not see at the time, for my back was 
toward him, and I was putting my whole heart into heav- 
ing, to gain a few inches at a time. I very nearly put the 
flesh of my hands into it, too. By the time the flukes were 
astern of us, I felt as if all my fingers had been stripped 
to the bone; as if they were in the same condition they 
were in the day Jimmy and I got John Appleby's boat 
aground on Fort Phoenix shoal. 

The line now broke the pin in the chocks, I suppose at 
a leap of the boat and a heave on the steering oar, and 
jumped out of the chocks. It brought up on the kicking- 
strap, pulling over the port bow at a slight angle with the 
boat, which kept clear automatically. A few inches of 
clear water showed between the boat and the body of the 
running whale, whose speed had not slackened in the least. 
I remember that the wave from the boat and that from 
the whale, meeting at such close quarters, resulted in a 
nearly vertical sheet of water, which came steadily over 
the side, making a nearly continuous cataract down my 
back until I moved over. 


Mr. Brown looked around apprehensively; but seeing 
that the boat was all right, and that the arrangement 
would give him an excellent chance to lance, he ordered 
Kane to take the line and heave a little. That would put 
him where he wanted to be. Kane, the bow oar, took the 
line all right, but was unable to heave us any farther for- 
ward, and I took hold. Together, we heaved the boat up 
before any of the others could get hold. Once there, my 
only idea was to hold us there, close to that whale. Be- 
fore the Prince had a chance to take in the slack of the 
line and hold around the loggerhead, out of the depths of 
my ignorance and thoughtlessness, I did it. I might have 
known better if I had stopped to think, but I might not, 
and there was no time to stop and think. I took a couple 
of turns with the slack around the thwart, and pulled the 
bight of the line through. It was a slipknot, and could be 
released by a yank upon the line held in my hand. 

We were now holding our position close to the irons — 
naturally enough — and Mr. Brown seemed to be pleased. 
He was unaware of my device. He lanced the whale again 
and again, but was unable to reach the life. The whale 
was spouting thin blood, but did not seem to be much dis- 
tressed; not as much as we were, for the boat was taking 
over the side a plentiful spray, and the bloody vapor of 
his spout enveloped us. It was like an acid. 

Suddenly he turned — so quickly that the boat ran 
plump into him, and a little way upon his body, so close 
to the irons that I could have reached them by leaning out 
a little. Mr. Brown seized his opportunity, and drove his 
lance twice into the life. 

" Slack your line, quick," he said, " and stern all ! " 

Then he looked around, and saw my knot, of which I 
had been so proud. I was yanking desperately at the line 
to release the knot, but it would not come. I was not 
strong enough, it seemed. 

Mr. Brown's face expressed the most utter disgust. He 
said nothing, but seized the hatchet to cut. 


It was not necessary, for Kane had seen my trouble, 
had sprung and grabbed the line with me. We yanked to- 
gether, and the knot came loose with a noise like an ex- 
plosion. Never in my life have I felt more relief than I 
felt at that sound. We backed off instantly, and the flukes 
came down on the water, just missing the boat. I did not 
mind it, and was really not aware of it. I did not mind 
anything now that that confounded knot was loose. 

The whale was going into his flurry, but we got well 
clear of him. In ten or fifteen minutes more he lay fin 
out. The ship was hull down to leeward. 

That evening, after we had towed the whale to the ship, 
and had made it fast alongside, Mr. Brown found me and 
gave me a serious overhauling. It was not long, and it was 
kindly, but I never forgot it. The gist of it was that a 
whale line should never be made fast. 


When we had the trying-out finished — the whale made 
about sixty-three barrels — we were not far from Baza- 
ruta Island, and the captain thought it a good chance to 
lay in some wood. Two boats were sent ashore, the men 
taking axes, while the Clearchus lay near, and the rest of 
the crew were busy with their cleaning and scrubbing. I 
was sent ashore with the boats. The island, or at any 
rate the part of it which we saw, was uninhabited, and 
was covered with a dense jungle of woods and vines and 
creepers. There was an abundance of wood, but it was 
rather hard to get, and we were there for two days, the 
boats taking off the wood as fast as we got it cut. The 
second day I got lost in the jungle, and I might be there 
yet if it had not been for Peter. 

There were a good many snakes in the jungle, the 
cobra among them. I did not know much about snakes, did 
not recognize the cobra, and did not appreciate its qual- 
ity. I had become separated from the others in my pur- 
suit of trees which I could tackle alone, and which would 
be of any value as fuel. When at last I looked up, I 
realized that I was lost. I had stepped so thoroughly 
around the tree that my trail in had become obliterated, 
and I could not tell which way to go. I tried several ways, 
but they all ended in a tangle of vegetation, and I began 
to get really scared, but I did not like to yell. I stopped 
and looked about me, and I saw a snake crawling slug- 
gishly away. 

My only experience with snakes had been with these lit- 
tle green or mottled-brown grass snakes, about two feet 
long or less, or with adders, and a couple of big black- 
snakes. The black snakes I let alone, but I was accustomed 


to catch the grass snakes and treat them as pets. I had a 
box in our back yard, covered with wire netting, in which 
I put them, and kept them until my mother made too 
strenuous objection to the practice. Then, although I 
could not understand why she should object so strongly, 
I bowed to the inevitable. They were pretty things, and 
quite harmless; even useful, but she neither knew nor 
cared about that. So, when I saw that snake in the jungle, 
instead of letting him go peaceably, as anybody else 
would have done, and glad that he was going, I leaped 
after him. It was not so very big, perhaps three or four 
feet long. 

The snake hurried when I jumped, but I kept on, and 
it stopped and faced me, rearing its head erect, some dis- 
tance from the ground. Its hood puffed out, and its head 
waved slowly from side to side. I began to be scared then, 
and backed away. There was a slight movement in the 
vines and bushes back of the snake, they parted silently, 
and I saw Peter looking at me. I did not speak, but 
pointed at the snake. Peter did not delay. His axe fell 
upon the snake, and cut it cleanly in two parts. 

" Come, lad," said Peter. " We missed you, and nobody 
knew which way you 'd gone. They 're about done." 

I remonstrated. " But, Peter, my tree." And I pointed 
at the fallen monarch of the forest, which was about six 
inches through at the butt, and twenty-five feet long. 

Peter smiled. " Aye, lad, I heard it fall. It was by that 
I found you. Maybe we '11 get it, and maybe not. I think 
they 're ready to put off to the ship and are waiting for 

So I followed him, leaving my precious tree, and leav- 
ing the pieces of the snake still writhing about on the 
ground. According to all my lore, they would continue to 
writhe until sunset, which was not far off. I determined 
to add to my curriculum a brief course upon snakes. I felt 
sure that the course would meet Mr. Brown's approval^ 
and that he was qualified to give it. 


We made sail on the Clearchus, and stood for the 
southern end of Madagascar; rounded it, and stood north- 
erly. There was rather a strong current against us, but 
the wind held strong from the east and southeast, and we 
made nearly four knots in spite of the current. Peter was 
occupied with the stove boat. He had little help, but he 
did not want any. There was a fascination in watching 
his deliberate movements, every one of which was to the 
certain end; the same kind of fascination which I used to 
feel in watching Oman, a cabinet-maker, at work. Oman 
seemed slow, and his manner of working would not have 
been approved by a modern efficiency expert, but he knew 
his trade from top to bottom, and was a master workman. 
He loved his work, as any master workman must. Not 
one of his deliberate movements was wasted, and the 
beautiful end was reached with surprising ease and 
quickness; and what an end it was ! Peter was no cabinet- 
maker, but his method of working was the same. 

When we had made about half the length of Madagas- 
car without even raising a spout, we fell in with another 
New Bedford whaler, the Apollo, and Captain Nelson 
went aboard of her for a gam with Captain Hendrickson. 
I did not go. They gammed from early morning to late 
in the afternoon, and then I saw Captain Nelson's boat 
coming back. The mate of the Apollo, who had been vis- 
iting us, hurried away with his men. As far as I could 
gather from what I overheard, the master of the Apollo 
had not communicated anything of value. She was a full 
ship, however, on her way home, and the old man — Cap- 
tain Nelson — felt sure that she had found some new 
cruising ground, either in the Indian Ocean or in the Pa- 
cific, he thought more likely the Indian Ocean. He had 
spent the day in detective work, trying to find some clue 
to its location, but without result. Whaling captains, when 
they have happened upon a new field, guard the secret as 
carefully as they can, but it leaks out in a year or two. 


No doubt Captain Hendrickson was laughing at him at 
that moment. He said this, standing on deck, looking back 
at the Apollo sinking into the sea behind us. She was hull 
down already, enveloped in a purple haze, for the sun was 
near its setting. The captain stood for some time silently 
gazing, until the old-fashioned square topsails of the 
Apollo were lost in the haze. Then he turned, smiling, to 
go below. 

" I '11 find it, by Godfrey," he muttered to himself, " if 
I have to comb these seas with a fine-toothed comb." 

Two days later we raised a spout nearly in sight of 
Tamatave. Tamatave is on the east coast of Madagascar, 
in about 18° south latitude. It was a calm morning, and the 
whale was about three miles off. He was lying lazily on 
the surface, and we watched him for an hour and a half, 
waiting for him to go down. At last he decided to go. His 
flukes went straight up into the air, and he went down in 
a very leisurely manner, as if it was almost too much 
trouble to eat. It was as if he sighed and said, " Well, 
here goes. I suppose I must get to work." That was the 
way I felt on that morning, and I had no doubt the whale 
felt much the same. Why should n't whales feel so ? 

We lowered two boats, and pulled to the spot. There 
was a gentle little breeze, and both boats put up their 
sails and sailed to and fro, waiting for him to come up. 
I was enjoying myself thoroughly, and did not care if 
he never came up. Indeed, we began to think he never 
would. It got to be an hour since he had gone down, and 
there was no sign of him. Then an hour and five minutes, 
and we lowered the sail and unstepped the mast. This 
was hardly done when he appeared silently, an eighth of 
a mile away, heading toward us. We were in an excellent 
situation, for as he was coming on, and could not see us, 
there was nothing for us to do but wait for him. 

He continued to forge ahead slowly, Mr. Baker's boat, 
half a mile or more astern of him, pulling up as hard as the 


men could pull. The whale was to windward of us, and 
we could hear his spout plainly, loud and hoarse and 
deep-toned. It sounded like the exhaust of the Mono- 
hanset, the boat that ran between New Bedford and the 
Vineyard. We waited, our oars out, and still he came on 
blindly, steering a somewhat zigzag course, to enlarge his 
field of vision, and stopping now and then, with his head 
out of water, to listen. 

He was pretty near us now, and the Prince was getting 
excited and impatient. He signalled Mr. Brown with his 
lips moving silently, to have the men pull a few strokes 
to lay us on, but Mr. Brown shook his head. Again the 
whale heaved his head out, almost within darting distance. 

" Now, pull ! A good stroke ! " 

We pulled with all our might. It was only about 
thirty feet that we had to go. We ranged alongside of his 
head, and he was very plainly trying to make out what 
the noise was, and where it came from. The moment we 
came within his field of sight he began to settle. There 
was no other possible escape; but he was not quick 
enough, and the Prince planted one iron deep in his 
shoulder, just above his fin. The whale had settled too 
deep for the second iron, which did not bite at all. By 
the time both irons had been let go we were backing off. 

That whale immediately lost all signs of leisureliness 
and laziness, and went down so fast that it was all we 
could do to keep the line whipping clear out of the tub. 
The end of that tub was approaching rapidly, and the 
other tub was bent on as fast as a man could work. Still 
there was no sign of slackening in the speed of sounding, 
and the end of the second tub, too, was not far off. 

" The drug ! " was the cry. " Drug, there ! Hurry ! " 

The drug, or drag, was hastily passed. Our drags were 
of two pieces of plank, crossed, and bolted securely to- 
gether, with a loop of whale line through the centre. On 
the opposite side from the loop a strong, stubby staff pro- 


jected about a foot. It was meant that a piece of canvas 
should be fastened to the staff. The canvas might survive 
dragging through the water, and would make the drag 
more conspicuous on the surface; but there was none on 
our drags that day. There seldom was any. 

The end of the line in a tub is always exposed for just 
such occasions, and our second tub of line was hastily 
bent on to the loop of the drag, and the drag held clear, 
ready to go overboard. This was scarcely done when the 
last coil of line snapped out of the tub, and the drug 
made a bee line for the bottom of the sea. We lay there 
helpless, without a foot of whale line in the boat, and our 
whale — nobody knew where he was exactly, but some- 
where under us, from one to two hundred fathoms deep. 
A line will follow all the windings of its course under 
water, very nearly, and the whale might have turned at 
some depth, and the line still go straight down. 

That must have been just what this whale did, as it 
turned out, for he rose soon after, about a quarter of a 
mile away, and made off just a little faster than the boats 
could go, although we tried hard. The drug appeared 
some minutes after the whale had shown himself, and 
went skittering off after him, jumping from sea to sea, 
or from one side to the other, tantalizingly near. Both 
boats followed it. It did not go very much faster than we 
did, pulling our hearts out for an hour dead to wind- 
ward ; but it gained on us very slowly, and we gave it up 
at last, and lay on our oars, while we watched that drug 
flash in the sun, farther and farther away. It flashed its 
last, and we turned and pulled back to the ship, leaving 
the whale in possession of two good harpoons, almost two 
hundred fathoms of nearly new whale line, and a per- 
fectly good drug, a work of art. I hoped he would enjoy 
their use. We never heard anything more of any of them. 
Possibly, even now, there is a whale, fairly old, swim- 
ming the seas somewhere, with an old rusty harpoon en- 


cysted in his shoulder, the remains of a frayed old line 
trailing from it, fringed with green or brown trailing 
weed along its whole length, encrusted with barnacles, 
and alive with little crabs and sea-horses. I am confident 
that he has never been taken. 

After our exploit with that whale we cruised to the 
eastward to the north of Mauritius, but did not raise a 
spout. Captain Nelson seemed to have made up his mind 
that there were no more whales to be found in those 
waters, for he stood away to the northwest, for the north- 
ern end of Madagascar. We passed within sight of it, but 
did not stop. 

There was a good deal of speculation among the crew as 
to where we were going, for although the mastheads were 
kept manned, the routine of cruising grounds was aban- 
doned, and the Clearchus was under a press of sail for a 
whaler. The men insisted that she was bound for some 
definite port on the east coast, and when we had passed 
Madagascar, and the course was changed by a point or 
so, many of them said that it was Zanzibar. In the fore- 
castle they had long disputes upon the matter, and I lis- 
tened, but took no part in them. I was often there. 

My own position on the ship was somewhat unusual. I 
was still cabin boy, but I was one of Mr. Brown's crew 
too, and had been for some months. I had grown nearly a 
foot in the past year, was a great, overgrown sixteen- 
year-old boy, with more muscle than I knew how to man- 
age. I must have been a raw, red, awkward chap, but for- 
tunately for me I did not know it. In virtue of my place 
in the boat I had acknowledged right in the forecastle, 
and I availed myself of it as often as I could. I loved to 
be there, sitting on the deck, perhaps, under the flaring 
tin lamp, or on a sea-chest which stood in a dark corner, 
and listening to the talk of the men. That talk, I sup- 
pose, was not edifying, but I did not join in it, and I 
heard there many yarns of whales and whaling, to which 


I listened with open ears and open mouth — and open 
nose. The smells of that forecastle ! 

I found out where we were probably bound by the sim- 
ple expedient of looking on the chart. I had been rather 
neglecting my privileges in that respect. The course which 
was being pricked there led straight to Zanzibar or very 
near it, although there was no certainty that the course 
might not be changed. There was no other port of any 
consequence but Zanzibar. There was elation among most 
of the old sailors when I told them of it, but Peter shook 
his head doubtfully. 

" Zanzibar," he said thoughtfully. " I know it well 
enough. It 's full of wickedness, and that of no white 
man's sort. Sodom and Gomorrah were nothing to it." 

Three days later we dropped our anchor in the harbor 
of Zanzibar. 


I stood at the rail, gazing at the harbor and the town. 
My eyes were half closed, my chin rested on my hands, 
which clasped the rail, and I was lost in a dream of the 
East. Small boats plied the near waters, the boatmen cry- 
ing out shrilly now and then, but my ears were deaf to 
their cries. The spacious harbor lay before me, with many 
vessels of all kinds and nationalities lying at anchor, from 
large steamers flying the British flag to Arab dhows. Life 
was there. I did not see the filth washing to and fro along 
the shore, I saw only the boats lying thickly there en- 
veloped in golden light, their sails of all colors swinging 
lazily. I did not see the narrow, dirty streets, swarming 
with the life of all Asia and Africa; I saw only the mass 
of light and shadow, the white walls of houses showing 
pink in the light of the setting sun, the mosques, the forts, 
the palace of the Sultan ; and, to the left of it as I stood, 
what appeared to be a ship, standing out clearly. 

Peter's voice broke in upon my dream. He had come up 
silently, and was at my shoulder. 

" It 's a pretty town, lad," he said, " from this distance. 
It looks nice — but it ain't." 

I said nothing for a little while. " What do they do here, 
Peter?" I asked then. 

"Do? In Zanzibar? Most everything that they do in 
such a port. They '11 stick you in the back if you don't 
keep your eyes open. But they run to cloves, mostly." 

" Cloves !" 

" Aye, lad, cloves. They may not do so much as they did 
in that line, for they had a hurricane here last year, and 
lost most of the trees — or bushes, or whatever they are 
that bear 'em. It was a terror, that hurricane. I 've just 


heard of it. But yon can smell cloves if you take a good 
sniff. When we go ashore to-morrow we can see some of 
their storehouses, mebbe, if you want to. For myself, I 'm 
not much interested in cloves." 

I was not greatly interested in cloves, either. When the 
boat took us ashore the next morning, Peter and me, and 
a crowd of liberty men, I saw the filth at the harbor's 
edge, and the crooked, dirty streets, hardly wide enough 
to be called alleys; and crowds of Hindus, Malays, 
Chinamen, negroes, and half-castes, with an Arab or a 
white man here and there — very few whites. I lost what 
little interest I had felt in cloves. 

The other men went up one of the streets arm in arm, 
as many abreast as the street would hold, with a second 
rank behind. Peter stood looking after them until they 
had disappeared around a corner. 

" I wonder," he said reflectively, " how they '11 come 
back." Then he turned to me. "Well, lad, up anchor." 

We wandered about the town all day; toward the pal- 
ace, to get a nearer view of the stone ship, which is a 
water-tank, or tanks, curiously carved; then back again 
through the narrow streets to the bazaars. I wondered 
at the heavy and massive wooden doors, almost black and 
all carved more or less, conspicuous in the white walls of 
the houses. We got hungry, and managed to find some- 
thing to eat: a concoction of rice and various other things 
— I don't know what there was in it, but Peter seemed 
to know it, and spiced it rather highly. Then we loafed 
from shop to shop, looking in at the things for sale, but 
buying nothing, although I was tempted two or three 
times. Peter restrained me. The shops had open fronts, 
and the proprietor was usually to be seen sitting fatly 
among the shadows. At last we came to a place where 
the street widened a little. Peter was hot and perspiring. 
So was I. The climate of Zanzibar is not all that could 
be desired. Peter proposed that we find a shady place 


•where they sold something harmless to drink. He found 
it, and we sat in a shady corner, screened from the street, 
and sipped our drinks slowly. Mine, I remember, was 
coffee, but I should not have known it for the drink that 
went by that name on the ship, or even at home, although 
I was rarely allowed coffee at home. My mother had an 
idea that it was stunting. 

A man came sauntering down the street from the direc- 
tion of the palace. I noticed him particularly, for there 
was something queer about him ; the silent, furtive way of 
walking, perhaps. I thought him a Hindu or a Malay, 
and Peter said that he was from the hills of India. There 
were many hillmen at the palace. The man seemed to be 
talking or muttering to himself, and he stopped in the 
middle of the open place, or square, and the sun beat 
down upon his head as he looked about him with fierce 
and melancholy eyes. They looked as if he had been a 
long time in hell, and saw no chance of getting out. 

Our proprietor had settled himself on some cushions, 
and was dozing quietly, his hands clasped across his fat 
stomach. Something made him open his eyes, and he found 
the melancholy, desperate eyes of the man fixed upon his. 
He cried out in terror, and started up, but he was not 
quick enough. The man's eyes flamed, he drew from his 
girdle a wicked-looking knife, made two bounds, and 
plunged the knife into the fat stomach. 

Instantly all was confusion among the shops. Men, 
women, and children scuttled like hares. By the time the 
man had turned around, the square was utterly deserted 
except for a shopkeeper on the other side, who was hastily 
putting up his shutters, and for a little boy who was 
pounding desperately on a massive, carved black door, 
begging those behind it to let him in. I had just seen the 
door close quietly on the keeper of one of the bazaars 
and two women. The man had not noticed Peter and me 
sitting behind our screen in the darkness. 


The man leaped across the square, and settled the 
shopkeeper who had been putting up the shutters. He 
was relieved of that duty forever. The little boy was still 
pounding on the door, and the man turned toward him. 
The boy began to scream. 

" Here ! " Peter growled. " This won't do." He got up 
hastily, upsetting the stand, with cups and glasses. They 
made a great crashing and ringing. Peter snatched away 
the screen. " Hey you ! Ahoy ! " he yelled. " 'Vast there ! " 

The man's head had turned at the crash. He abandoned 
his pursuit of the little boy, and with a smile of fright- 
fulness he launched himself at Peter. Peter had reached 
in his belt for his knife, but it was no match at all for the 
knife coming for him. I knew it, and I freed myself and 
sprang out. I should have done so before, but my mind 
seemed paralyzed, and I incapable of movement. It was 
like a dream in its effect, and in its quickness. The whole 
thing had not taken half a minute; hardly a quarter. 

The man was almost upon Peter — I had not reached 
him — when there was a hiss at my ear, a flash in the 
sun, a streak of light shot past me, and for an instant I 
saw the handle of a knife quivering at his throat. It was 
just above the breast bone — a fair bulls-eye — and the 
blade was buried. To this day I remember exactly how 
it looked, quivering rapidly for an instant with the force 
of the blow; an ivory handle, stained and polished with 
much grasping, one point of its curved surface reflecting 
the sunlight in a fierce flicker, which hurt my eyes. Then 
the man made a lunge at Peter, missed, and fell sprawl- 

Peter and I stood still, staring at him. He squirmed a 

" It was well thrown," said Peter thoughtfully; " a'most 
too well." 

" Did for him," said a voice right behind us. " May as 
well take my knife." 


The owner of the voice stepped forward, bent, and 
coolly drew the knife from the throat. It was followed 
by a gush of blood. He moved his foot quickly, so that it 
should not be stained by the blood; then wiped the blade 
deliberately and carefully on the gaudy sash around the 
body on the ground. Then he stood straight again, slip- 
ping the knife into its sheath on his hip. 

" Better fade away, mates," he said. " Follow me. I 
know the town." 

The massive black door was opening cautiously. The 
boy lay upon the ground, overcome with fright. The 
knife-thrower moved away silently and swiftly, and 
Peter and I followed him. With twistings and turnings 
and doublings that would have done credit to the crafti- 
est old fox, we came, at last, to the water-front, and to 
the boat landing. We saw the boat just putting off from 
the ship. I turned to our companion, for I had had no 
chance to see what he was like, and we had been too busy 
to observe anyway; but his back was not prepossessing, 
as he threaded those narrow lanes with swiftness and cer- 
tainty. I saw Peter looking him over too, with his air of 
detachment, and a half smile of amusement on his face. 

The man was a crafty old fox. That was sure. He 
showed no particular age, but might have been anywhere 
from thirty to fifty. He was of medium height, spare and 
lean and thin, with the leanness of an animal forced to 
forage for a scanty living — a pariah dog, and with the 
furtive air of such an animal. His face was seamed and 
crossed with lines, probably due to his manner of life 
rather than marking his age in any way. His eyes were a 
light china blue — they looked like pieces of china set 
into his head. There was absolutely no depth to them, and 
they were as hard as stones. The man might have been 
blind. He made me think of a cat I had known; a large 
striped yellow cat with one blue eye and one yellow one; 
a, very still, calculating cat, contemplating the world 


calmly out of its cruel, painted eyes; a cat absolutely 
without affection, ready to take any action which prom- 
ised success; a cat without remorse and without shame. 
It may be inferred that I do not like cats. In general, per- 
haps, I do not; I did not take to this man either. 

It is not unlikely that the man felt what was passing 
in my mind, much as a dog feels such things. With a dog 
there is no need for acts, or even for a change of the ex- 
pression of your face. He feels what is passing in your 
mind; smells it, perhaps. This knife-thrower, who threw 
a knife almost too well to suit Peter's fastidious temper, 
had been looking me over, much as I had been apprais- 
ing him, each of us after his manner. Now he smiled 
faintly and disdainfully — perhaps he had had many 
such experiences — and looked away at our boat. 

" Much obliged," said Peter. 

The man seemed surprised. "For what?" he asked. 

" The knife," Peter replied. 

" Oh, that," the man said carelessly. " He would have 
come at me next. I was behind you, and no place to slip 
away to. I do not like to run from a thing like that, so 
I stopped him." 

" You throw a knife well," said Peter. 

" I do," said the man with cool and impersonal candor, 
as though he was telling the simple truth — which he un- 
doubtedly was. " Practice, you know, makes perfect. But 
the man was running amok. Anybody could have killed 
him and been thanked for it. I have seen several of them, 
Malays mostly. It seemed wiser to slip away. He was 
from the palace." 

Neither Peter nor I made any reply. 

" Your ship 's a whaler, I take it," the man resumed 
presently. " I spotted you for whalemen. Sperm ? " 

Peter nodded. 

" To Australia, Sunda Strait, China Sea, Japan, and 
New Zealand?" 

234 SHE BLOWS!. 

" I s'pose so," said Peter, " but I can't say for certain." 

" I wonder," said the man slowly, " if your vessel 
needs another hand? Are you a boatsteerer ? " he asked, 
looking at Peter. 

Peter smiled and shook his head. 

" You ought to be," the man said, " or one of the mates. 
Been to sea all your life, haven't you? " 

" Forty years, and over." 

" I thought so. Know a ship from truck to keelson. 
More real seamanship than the rest of the crew put to- 
gether. Old navy man and merchant service, too, eh ? " 

" Yes," said Peter, modestly. " How did you know? " 

" I know the signs." 

" Well," said Peter, " you might speak to the mate. 
That 's Mr. Baker in charge of that boat — chief mate." 

How Peter could have told so certainly was beyond my 
comprehension; but he had good eyes. We stood silently 
until the boat came in. Then the man spoke to Mr. Baker, 
who received his application well enough. He looked the 
man over. 

" What have you sailed in? " 

"Almost everything, sir, from dhows to whalers, for 
the last ten years." 

"Whalers? What vessels?" 

" Only one, the Apollo." 

" Apollo, eh ? How long were you in the Apollo ? And 

"The last year, sir." 

Mr. Baker grunted. " Deserted, eh ? We left her near 
Mauritius about a week ago, bound home." 

The man hesitated. " Well, no, sir. She sailed without 

" Drunk, eh? Going to let it go at that? " 

He hesitated again. " Well, the truth is, sir, I was n't 
sorry. I 'm not ready to go home yet." 

" Think you '11 be ready to go home in a couple of 
years ? Where do you hail from ? " 


" Near Boston." 

Mr. Baker grunted again, and was silent for a little. 
Then he directed a piercing look at the man. 

" Where has the Apollo been in the last year ? " 

" Over New Zealand way, Samoa and Kingsmill — 
South Seas." ) 

" Know those waters? " 

" Very well, sir." 

Mr. Baker had been standing beside the boat. Now he 
turned away. 

" All right. Wait here for me. I '11 be back in half an 
hour. I '11 take you aboard, and I have no doubt the cap- 
tain will sign you. Any dunnage ? " 

" No, sir. It 's all on the Apollo but what I stand in." 

Mr. Baker looked at Peter. " You want to go aboard, 

" The sooner the better, sir. We 've seen all we want 
of the town." 

" Liberty is n't up, you know. Muss, eh? Better get in 
the boat if anybody comes." 

Mr. Baker was back in half an hour, followed by por- 
ters with baskets of fresh provisions. Three or four more 
of our men had drifted down. When we were halfway to 
the ship Mr. Baker spoke. 

" You — what 's your name? " 

" John Brown, sir," answered the knife-thrower, with 
half a second's hesitation. 

" John Brown, eh? We 've got one John Brown on the 
ship. Would n't John Smith do you just as well? " 

The man smiled. " If you prefer it, sir, I '11 make it 

Mr. Brown was on deck when we came aboard, I just 
ahead of the man who was to call himself John Smith. 
Mr. Brown looked kindly at me; then I saw a curious ex- 
pression pass across his face, and his eyes hardened. It 
passed in an instant, like a cat's-paw over water, but I 

236 SHE BLOWS!. 

could not help noting it. There was surprise in it, and no 
gratification. I remember that I was disappointed, for I 
had thought Mr. Brown above those sudden dislikes. 

Mr. Baker went into the cabin, and pretty soon Smith 
was sent for. In a quarter of an hour he came out again 
and went forward to the forecastle. There was no fault to 
be found with him, but I had an uneasy feeling that all 
was not right, and I went below to find Captain Nelson 
and to tell him of our adventure. I thought he ought to 
know it. 

I found Mr. Baker still with him. They paid no at- 
tention to me, but talked in low tones, and I could not 
help hearing scraps of their talk, although I stood well 
back. The cabin was not very large. 

" Seems an educated beggar," Mr. Baker was remark- 
ing. " Knocked about . . . my guess . . . beach-comber 
. . . can't tell what . . . may be good seaman." 

Captain Nelson sat silent for nearly a minute. 
" Hendrickson spoke of him," he said at last. " Glad to 
get rid of him. Trouble-maker. Don't much like his cut, 
but that Apollo business settled it. He may know some- 
thing about it. If he does, no reason why he should n't 
tell." He turned to me. " What is it, Tim ? " 

I told him my story, a matter of ten minutes, perhaps. 

" H'm ! " the captain grunted. " H'm ! You see, Mr. 
Baker. Peter 's right enough. Throws a knife too well. 
Lucky he does, though, or where 'd Peter be — and you, 
too, Tim? Can't have him carrying a knife like that here, 
though. Gently, now, if you can, but get that knife off 

To my great surprise, and to Mr. Baker's surprise, 
Smith made no objection whatever to depositing his knife, 
upon the captain's conditions. It was the same knife. I 
was ready to swear to it when Captain Nelson showed it 
to me for identification. Mr. Baker, I know, distrusted 
his readiness, and thought he must have another, prob- 
ably the mate of it, but we never saw it. 


That evening I was standing by the rail, in the dark, 
looking at the occasional lights which marked the town, 
and listening to sounds which came faintly across the 
water. My chin was on the back of my two hands resting 
on the rail, and I was dreaming. When you are at anchor 
in harbor, and the darkness makes outlines dim, it is not 
difficult to imagine that Zanzibar is New Bedford — or 
that any place is any other place, as long as it has a har- 
bor and a water front; especially if that other place 
shines like a star in your memory. I have got much pleas- 
ure, all my life, from giving my imagination free rein. 
It is a harmless diversion. I was doing so then, standing 
without motion by the main rigging, and I must have been 
but one of the shadows of rigging, and coils of rope hang- 
ing from belaying pins, and davits. 

Another man was not far from me, not as still as I, 
but moving softly and slowly to and fro. I thought it was 
one of the officers. If it was, it must be Mr. Brown, and I 
watched him covertly. 

Presently a voice came out of the darkness, a voice 
speaking low, cultivated and courteous, as one gentleman 
to another. 

"Does this remind you of Batavia, Mr. Brown?" It 
was a casual question, pleasantly put, and I saw no harm 
in it. It was the new man, Smith, who asked it. Why had 
he hit upon Batavia? 

Judging by his reception of it, Mr. Brown saw noth- 
ing pleasant in the question, or in the seemingly harm- 
less manner of the questioner. He turned sharply, and 
his voice was like ice. 

"Batavia? No. Why should it?" 

" I thought," Smith replied, his voice showing that he 
was smiling, " that perhaps you might remember a pleas- 
ant evening — something like this one — that you spent 
there some years ago." 

Mr. Brown turned completely around toward Smith. 
He did not reply for an instant, but when he did — 


" My man," he said, " I do not know you. But you may 
as well understand me clearly. I am the second mate of 
this ship, and I shall do whatever seems to me necessary 
to maintain my position and enforce my authority. Re- 
member that; anything whatever. Go forward." 

" Yes, sir," said Smith. He was actually laughing, but 
silently. I could tell by his voice, and so could Mr. Brown, 
of course; but the man's manner was perfectly respect- 
ful. " Of course you will. In your place I would do the 
same. You would be a fool not to, and I should say that 
you were never a fool." 

" Go forward," Mr. Brown repeated curtly, " and go 

He went without further words. I could hear him 
chuckling as he went. Mr. Brown stood looking after 
him; then he moved slowly aft, while I mused upon what 
I had heard. It did not take long for me to put two and 
two together. Smith, or whatever his name was, must 
have been with Mr. Brown in Batavia on that night when 
he got those scars I had seen ; it was not so very unlikely 
that he was the man who had inflicted them. They had 
recognized each other, but Mr. Brown chose not to admit 
it. If I was right, there was the basis for a pretty quar- 
rel, but such quarrels are not pretty when they are on 
your own ship. I did not like to think of it and of what 
might come of it. 


Our liberty men appeared in various stages of dejection 
from their Oriental haunts of infamy, but none were miss- 
ing, and we sailed for the eastward, to cruise about the 
Seychelles. Smith had been assigned to Mr. Brown's boat, 
to take my oar, for I was nothing but a substitute. I was 
chagrined, but there was nothing to be done about it. Mr. 
Brown was sorry, but again there was nothing to be done 
about it. He could not object unless he wanted to open the 
matter which he had resolutely kept closed — to every- 
body but me, as I believed — and Smith was a thorough 
seaman, as far as there had been opportunity to tell. He 
started out, in fact, as a model, his only fault being that 
he was a little too much of a gentleman for the forecastle. 
The men were suspicious of him, and held off at first. Mr. 
Baker was suspicious of him too. He said it was too good 
to be true ; that a man with his history behind him for the 
past ten years — he was convinced of the truth of his in- 
ferences in that matter — would be as good as that only if 
he was up to some trick. Smith was a man to watch, and 
he proposed to keep his eye on him. 

I tried to sound Mr. Brown on the subject of Smith, 
but met with no success. He turned his quiet smile upon 
me. " He 's a pretty good shot with a knife," he said, 
" is n't he, Tim ? It must have taken a great deal of prac- 
tice. And he seems to be a quiet sort of man, and a good 
sailor. We have n't lowered yet, but I 've no doubt that 
he '11 prove as good in the boat." 

He did. We got no whales on the Seychelles grounds, 
but we saw several, and Mr. Brown's boat was down 
nearly every time. Smith pulled an oar in perfect form, 
and he pulled a strong oar, rather to everybody's surprise, 


for he was very thin, and did not seem muscular. I suppose 
he was wiry, and I knew that he was not burdened with 
any kind of tissue that he did not need. He was pleasant 
to everybody, respectful to the officers, and he did not seem 
surly and disgruntled at having to pull for hours after 
a whale which finally got away. He soon won the con- 
fidence of the men. The confidence of the officers was not 
so easy. Mr. Brown could feel no confidence, I was sure, 
and I was almost equally sure of Mr. Baker. Mr. Snow 
was surly and irritable, and getting worse. He was on bad 
terms with his crew, and seemed determined to haze Silver, 
who had been subjected to that process ever since leaving 
Cape Town. 

I was sorry for Silver, but I could do nothing. None 
of the men could do anything for him. Captain Nelson 
could have stopped it, but he did not, for some reason 
or other. Silver was getting more and more desperate 
and morose, and was looking for a chance to get away. 
The Seychelles might have offered him a chance, but 
we did not enter a port there, nor send a boat ashore. 
Even if his boat had gone ashore his chance of escaping 
would have been slim, for Mr. Snow was aware that Silver 
would desert if he got a chance, and would have kept an 
eye on him. For that matter, none of Mr. Snow's crew 
were to be trusted now, with the exception of Miller, the 
boatsteerer. All the officers and all the men knew that, 
and Mr. Snow's boat would have been the last one chosen 
to go ashore. 

We were often within sight of land, about eight or ten 
miles from it. One day, after a morning of light and vari- 
able airs, and an afternoon of flat calm, the ship had 
drifted in until darkness found us not more than four miles 
from shore. I think the officers were a little worried about 
it. An anchor was got ready, and chain overhauled, but 
the anchor was not put over. It was a hot night, the only 
really hot night we had in that neighborhood; moonless, 


with light clouds overspreading the sky. Practically the 
whole crew were on deck throughout the evening. They 
made rather a crowd about the fore part of the ship, from 
knightheads to try-works. I was aware of a subtle stir 
among them, and I drifted forward to see what it meant, 
or whether it meant anything. Mr. Macy passed me, prob- 
ably on the same errand; but he could find nothing, and 
after a turn about the windlass, he passed me again, on 
his way back. I sat down by the windlass, and pretty soon 
J heard a hoarse whisper. 

" 'D he get away clear? " 

" Ye'," another voice replied in a low growl, " all clear. 
Hope the sharks don't get him. Water 's swarmin' with 
'em. Tried to persuade him to wait, but he would n't. Said 
they might 's well 's that fourth mate. He 's to light a 
fire if he gets ashore — matches sealed up with grease 
in a tin. We 're to watch for it." 

" How soon ?" 

" Dunno. How long 11 it take to swim four miles ? Two 
hours or better, I should think — if he makes it at all." 

The whispering drifted away. Within half an hour we 
sa w lightning at a great distance to the northwest. It came 
nearer, and a little air puffed in our faces; increased to 
a gentle breeze. The thunder-storm did not strike us, but 
the breeze continued long enough for us to get away from 
the immediate neighborhood of the land. By the time 
the two hours were up, we were too far away to see a fire 
kindled on the beach, and I never knew whether poor 
Silver got safely to shore or not. I never saw him or heard 
of him again. 

There was not the slightest effort made to get Silver 
back. Indeed, there was no chance unless the ship had been 
delayed for some days, for that was our last sight of the 
Seychelles. We stood away to the northward for the Ara- 
bian Sea, to cruise around there for some weeks, mostly 
in the northern part. One thing that Silver's desertion 


did for me was to restore me to Mr. Brown's boat. Smith 
was given Silver's oar in Mr. Snow's boat, whether at Mr. 
Brown's request or not I did not know, but I thought not. 
It was not like Mr. Brown to make such a request, al- 
though he must have been glad of the change, even if 
Smith did pull a better oar than I. The vacancy in Mr. 
Macy's boat ever since Silvia's desertion at Cape Town 
had been filled by the sailmaker, who continued to fill it 
without much grumbling. 

It was hot up there in the Arabian Sea, with the wind 
mostly from the northward — from the land — and 
many days of calm weather. There was no bad weather 
to speak of. We sighted spouts some half-dozen times, 
chased without result every time but two, hard pulling in 
a temperature that made the sweat pour off the men in 
rivers — except Smith. He seemed to be immune to any 
temperature that could be raised, and laughed at the men 
for sweating so. Mr. Snow's opinion of him could only be 
guessed, but he seemed to have a great and growing re- 
spect for him, and he did not so much as bat an eyelid at 
him. This may have been due in part to his reputation as 
a thrower of a knife; a reputation which clung to him and 
which could not be ignored. You thought of it at once 
whenever you thought of Smith; could not dissociate the 
man from his reputation. 

He rapidly became a favorite, and there was no reason 
why he should not. He was a superlatively good man in a 
boat, especially in that climate; he was always respect- 
ful, and while he was no boot-licker, he never forgot the 
deference which Snow liked. Snow was a little man, little 
in nature as in stature; and I have found little men to be 
generally more rigidly insistent upon the outward ob- 
servance of forms than bigger men. There seems to be 
something in mere size which tends to a greater serenity, 
and to a scorn for such forms. So Snow was quite satis- 
fied with outward observance. 


We got three whales there, of moderate size. There was 
nothing remarkable about their capture, and they were 
put fin out with no more trouble than shooting a steer in 
a stall at Brighton. Two of them were alongside at one 
time, and sharks were so plentiful and so voracious — 
they are always that — that it was all we could do to save 
any of the blubber from the second whale. They had it 
almost stripped before we could get at it, in spite of our 
best efforts. 

Our third whale was the cause of an incident which 
greatly amused everybody on board. We were in about 
latitude 12° N., longitude 60° E., nearly in the track of 
steamers to Bombay from the east coast of Africa. Our 
try-works was going full blast, sending up a huge column 
of black and oily smoke, which rose to a great height in 
the still air. It was very hot and quite calm, and the men, 
clad in nothing but shirts and old trousers — many of 
them had dispensed with the shirt — were sweating, curs- 
ing, and grumbling at the foul, sticky smoke, which 
choked them and made them look like coal-heavers or 
worse. Suddenly there was a cry of " Sail ho ! " All, 
without stopping their work, followed the direction of the 
lookout, and gazed off to the southward. Pretty soon the 
smoke of a steamer appeared; then her stack, and then 
her upper works rose out of the sea. She was heading 
straight for us, and the belching smoke from her stack 
showed that she was crowding her furnaces. She contin- 
ued to come on, straight for us, until she was perhaps four 
miles away, and we could see that she was no tramp, but 
a regular passenger steamer which ran to Bombay and 
ports farther east. At that distance she could see us 
clearly, without the possibility of making a mistake as to 
our character. She seemed to be seized with sudden dis- 
gust, made as quick a turn as she could, and stood off on 
her course to the northeast. 

Many of the crew guffawed. " Thought we were afire," 


one man said, ** and found that we were nothing hut a 
damned whaler. Could n't be any worse," he added, " if we 
were afire. That 's the way I feel now." 

Peter was sorry. " Too bad that she made that mis- 
take," he said to me later. " Whalers do get afire some- 
times, Timmie, and the smoke would n't be very different. 
Other ships, too, as I know well, though the smoke of it 's 
apt to be different. When her officers see a good deal of 
smoke again, they '11 probably say it 's only another 
damned whaler, and hold their course. There was a ship I 
sailed in once, carrying grain. It got afire somehow and 
smouldered for weeks." 

He seemed to have finished. I was impatient. 

" What did you do, Peter ? " 

" Do, lad ? " he asked, with his quiet smile. " We did n't 
do anything but batten down the hatches tighter 'n ever, 
and try to smother it. We made our port, but the decks 
were too hot to stand on with comfort." 

" Why did n't you put any water on the fire? That 
would have put it out, would n't it? " 

He smiled again. " Aye, I s'pose it would. But wet 
down grain? 'T would have split her wide open." 

We left the Arabian Sea with seven hundred and fifty 
barrels of oil in our hold, and stood to the eastward, as 
far as the Maldive Islands. Fifteen months out, and 
seven hundred and fifty barrels, and it would take nearly 
twenty- four hundred barrels to fill us up. If we did no 
better than that, on the average, it meant three years more 
of it before we could be sailing into Buzzards Bay, a full 
ship. But I did not know that I cared greatly. 

We had good weather, on the whole, to the Maldives. 
There were a good many days of calm or light airs, and 
we ran into one gale that continued for a little more than 
a day, and blew itself out. It did not seem so very bad, 
although it kept the men busy and wet. For the greater 
part of the time it was very pleasant sailing, with the 


wind dead astern or on the port quarter, and not too hot 
if I could lie on my back in the shadow of a sail, and look 
up at the sky and the foretruck describing a slow el- 
lipse against it. The heel of the bowsprit was my favorite 
place, but on our present point of sailing that was fairly 
in the sun until the afternoon was half gone, even with 
the staysails out to starboard ; and nobody — no white 
man — could bear the sun beating down upon him long 
with any comfort. I could stand the smell of the ship, 
which blew over me as I lay there. Indeed, I liked the 
smell of the ship. It was chiefly of oil and tar and rope 
and general hotness, and it brought back vividly to my 
mind the wharves of New Bedford on a summer noon. 

When I had any time in the mornings I used to stand 
just abaft the foremast on the port side. It was wiser, of 
course, not to be caught loafing, although the officers 
would usually fail to see me when I was in plain sight. 
Standing so, I gazed off at the dimpling sea — on two oc- 
casions I saw a smudge of smoke on the horizon, and once 
I saw a sail — or, looking down, I watched the little 
wave, continuously breaking, which our bows pushed 
aside. We often had schools of flying fish about us, and 
sometimes I could see great numbers of albacore about 
the ship, a fish not unlike our horse-mackerel. The alba- 
core chased the flying fish — not into the air, although 
they would often leap clear of the water — and caught 
them, too, by being on hand when they struck the water 
again. The albacore had their enemies. One morning I no- 
ticed that the albacore were huddled close to the ship, 
swimming in close ranks. Suddenly they disappeared — 
they had gone to the other side of the hull, I found — and 
I saw a swift shadow pass where they had been. It looked 
much like a shark swimming fast, at a considerable depth. 
Then the albacore were back again, and the shadow re- 
turned. The albacore scattered and fled, and the pursuer, 
a great swordfish, was among them, slashing with his 


sword, killing three or four. When they were gone, the 
swordfish returned from the pursuit, I suppose, and ate 
those he had killed. I did not see that part of it. We saw 
swordfish more than once, big fellows, twelve feet long 
or more, apparently basking on the surface. The men 
called them sail-fish. They have an enormous back fin, 
folded down on the back when they swim fast, but often 
erect above the water when they lie at the surface. It acts 
like a sail, and carries them along at a very fair speed. 

We were to see another phase of the activities of the 
swordfish. We had got nearly to the Maldives, about 72° 
east longitude, when the hail came down from aloft: 
" There she breaches ! And white waters ! " 

Everybody looked. It was a lone whale, rather a small 
one as far as we could judge at that distance, about three 
miles off on the weather bow. It was kicking up extraor- 
dinary antics, sounding briefly, then coming up on a half 
breach; lobtailing; running for a short distance, when it 
would give it up, and begin all over again. 

The officers watched the whale while we stood toward 
it. At last Mr. Baker was satisfied. 

" Swordfish," he said. 

The whale remained nearly in the same spot while 
we came up. His attention was so completely taken up by 
the swordfish that we did not lower until the ship was 
considerably less than a quarter of a mile away. Then we 
put down two boats, Mr. Baker's and Mr. Brown's, which 
ran down under both sail and oars. We did not think it 
necessary to avoid making a noise, for the whale could 
not get away if he wanted to. By the time we had got 
nearly within darting distance, he had almost ceased 
struggling, and seemed about ready to give up the ghost. 
The Prince was just standing up and reaching for his 
iron, and Mr. Baker's boat was approaching from the 
other side. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Star- 
buck taking his harpoon from the crotch. 


Suddenly the Prince gave a yell: " Swordfish ! Look 
out ! " 

Mr. Brown heaved mightily on the steering oar, to lay 
the boat around, but it was too late. There was a sharp 
crack, we felt the boat rise under us, and Kane cried out 
in surprise and pain. I turned my head around quickly — 
I had no business to do so, and I knew it as soon as I had 
time to think. I saw the point of the sword sticking up 
beside Kane's thigh. Kane had dropped his oar, grabbed 
the sword point with both hands, and was yelling for the 
iron. The sword had gone through the thin planking — 
the garboard strake — and through the thwart, and had 
given Kane a flesh wound in the thigh. It was a narrow 
escape for Kane, but he was not thinking of that. His 
whole mind was upon holding the sword without cutting 
his hands too badly. The swordfish was thrashing about 
viciously, shaking the boat, and threatening to break out 
the bottom planking. It all happened more quickly than 
I can tell it. The Prince was alert, and he reached over, 
and jabbed the harpoon clear through the fish. Then he 
seized a lance, and churned it up and down through the 
heart of the fish, turning it as he churned. He could not 
reach the gills, where swordfish are usually lanced. The 
violent struggles of the swordfish ceased, he quivered 
once, and lay still; but his sword remained sticking 
through the thwart even after Kane had let go of it, and 
Kane's thigh was bleeding freely. 

"Badly hurt, Kane?" Mr. Brown asked. 

" No, sir," said Kane, hammering on the end of the 
sword with his paddle, which he had taken from its place 
for the purpose. " If I can only get this bloody sword 
out — but it 's stuck tight." 

" All the better," said Mr. Brown. " Heave on the line, 
boys, and break it off." 

At the second heave a heavy strain came on the line, 
and at the third there was another sharp crack, and the 


sword broke off at the nose. The broken sword remained 
sticking through the planking and the thwart, and the 
body of the fish came up alongside the boat. It was a big 
fish, two thirds the length of the boat. 

While we were having it out with the swordfish, Mr. 
Baker had fastened to the whale, which was already dead, 
and we lay there and waited for the ship. There had been 
at least four swordfish attacking the whale, and nobody 
knew how many more. The whale, a small bull of thirty- 
seven barrels as he afterward tried out, stood no chance 
at all against half a dozen big swordfish, which were of 
a kind fairly common in the Indian Ocean, about twice 
as long as those I was familiar with. We got our prize 
on deck, and ate it within the next few days. The flesh 
was a little coarser than that of the smaller ones, but very 
good. We got others from time to time, as chances offered, 
as long as we were in their waters, and dolphins and por- 
poises occasionally. 

Attacks by swordfish upon boats are not uncommon. 
It seems likely enough that they mistake the hull of the 
boat for the body of a whale. Attacks on the hull of a 
ship, however, seem to me to be due to accident. The fish 
which are the common prey of the swordfish often hud- 
dle close to the hull of a vessel, and the swordfish, in its 
attack upon them, may run its sword into the hull, al- 
though there have been instances where several swordfish 
have made a concerted attack upon the hull. We had a 
sword penetrate the planking of the Clearchus later on, 
before we had got out of the Indian Ocean, which I was 
convinced was due to accident. The sword went cleanly 
through the copper, the sheathing, a three-inch oak plank, 
and an oak rib, and stuck four inches into the hold; then 
it broke off. I saw, many years ago, in New Bedford, the 
Morning Star, a whaler, with a sword which had been 
driven clear through her keel, eighteen inches of solid 
oak, and the point of the sword still sticking a good 
eight inches beyond it. 


From the point where the swordfish killed the whale we 
laid a course southwesterly to the westward of Reunion. 
We had the southeast trades all the way, and did not touch 
a brace until we were between Reunion and Madagascar. 
There the trades left us, and we laid a southerly course, 
with shifting winds. We were getting into the " horse lati- 
tudes," and the wind was generally strong, at first from 
the east and northeast; still farther south it held usually 
from the westward, stronger yet, and gales were frequent. 

I had taken an unreasoning dislike to Smith. I could 
not account for it, and I do not remember that I tried to. 
It was much like that of a dog, and may have been due to 
the same cause. His outward behavior was unexception- 
able. He was always pleasant, properly deferential to the 
officers, with due regard to each man's taste in degree 
and kind of deference. He was a diplomat. Even to Mr. 
Brown his manner was perfect: silent, brief when words 
were needed, quite respectful and pleasant. I think that 
Mr. Brown was wondering whether he had done Smith 
entire justice. But the men were less alive and willing. 
Nobody could help seeing it, although few would have 
ascribed the change to Smith. 

One day, when we were off the southern end of Mada- 
gascar, Peter spoke to me of it. 

" It 's that Smith," he said. " It 's his doing." 

" Why don't you report it to the old man ? " I asked. 
" Or tell one of the officers — Mr. Brown, if you like." 

" What 'd I report ? " he said. " Smith has n't said any- 
thing or done anything. They 'd ask me what, and I 'd say 
he laughed at the men, and they 'd laugh at me — and I 'd 
fall off the topsail yardarm, with a knife in my back, as 


like as not, in one o' these gales we'll be running into. 
And what good 'd that do to anybody ? " 

" Does Smith carry a knife? " I asked quickly. 

" I 've never seen it ; and he 's one of the pleasantest- 
spoken men I ever saw — always at my elbow when I 'm 
at my scrimshawing, admiring. But he 's a trouble-maker. 
He '11 have the men ready for mutiny, the first thing you 
know, with his laughing at them, and making fun of them, 
and despising them for doing what they have to do. There 
ain't anything else will do it so quick or so sure. And 
there ain't anything he says or does 't you can put your 
finger on. I 've been to sea a good many years, and I know 
a beach-comber when I see one — full of all kinds of hard 
drink that would burn out the insides of a better man, 
and filled with disease and evil. Smith must have been a 
good man to stand it so long — and come out no worse." 

At that moment Smith passed us, and Peter began to 
talk of something else. 

When we reached the latitude of the Crozets we began 
the regular cruising programme at once. We were far 
enough south to see ice occasionally, although it was a 
little late in the season for that; but the water was very 
cold, and the wind, almost without exception while we 
were in those waters, was very strong from the westward, 
blowing a gale about half the time. We had a good deal of 
fog. I did get sight of the Crozets once, distant, dark 
mountain peaks, cold and forbidding. We had about us, 
most of the time, an albatross or two, and gannets, 
boobies, petrels, and Cape pigeons in plenty. I suppose 
they must nest on the islands. 

Sperm whales are not to be found in these latitudes, al- 
though right whales are. 

We got no whales here; indeed, our actions led me to 
think that the captain did not expect any, or want any. 
He took no great pains, at any rate, and we quartered 
the gounds only once. Then we wore ship, and ran down 


to leeward. When we had reached the easterly limit of 
our cruising ground, we did not come about and beat up, 
as I expected, but continued to run to the eastward be- 
fore a gale of wind, with alternations of fog and rain, 
three hundred miles farther, more or less. It was very 
disagreeable weather. 

At last we found ourselves, one morning, in the midst 
of great numbers of birds, some in the air, and many 
others in the water: teals, giant petrels, gulls, terns, cor- 
morants, Cape pigeons, and albatrosses; and an abun- 
dance of penguins. The cormorants and penguins were 
new to me. We knew, of course, that we must be very 
near to some land, but the weather was so thick that we 
could not see above half a mile. Sail was reduced, and we 
ran cautiously. We could feel the nearness of land. Even 
I could do that. About the middle of the day the fog 
lifted somewhat, and became a thick mist. Through it we 
saw the mass of Kerguelen, or Desolation Island, its 
peaks lost in the rolling clouds of fog. A little later we 
rounded a promontory, and entered a bay with many 
little islands dotted over it. Of course I compared the 
bay with Buzzard's Bay, for that was my standard of 
comparison always, especially the part from New Bed- 
ford to Cuttyhunk. This bay seemed not very different in 
size, but the shores were as different from the shores of 
Buzzard's Bay as they well could be. The land was steep 
and high and rugged, making the bay more like my idea 
of a Norwegian fiord, although I know the fiords of Nor- 
way only as my imagination pictures them. On that first 
day the land seemed to run right up without limit beyond 
the clouds, which hung low. There were days, later, when 
we saw the fields of perpetual snow on the summits of the 
mountains, and caught glimpses of the glaciers running 
down the valleys. 

There was fresh water here in plenty, and some days 
were spent in filling our casks and in giving the men a 


run ashore. There was no danger of desertion, and abso- 
lutely no chance of harm of the sort usually connected 
with shore liberty. Indeed, it was funny to see how afraid 
the men were that the ship would sail without them. 
They went about in clumps, and Smith attached himself 
closely to Peter and me. It was good to feel solid earth 
under our feet once more. 

We saw here some fur seals in the water, and a very 
few sea-elephants, which had been left behind by the herd 
in its southward migration a short time before, much as 
an occasional robin is left in the north, into November 
or even December. The sea-elephant is a strange beast. It 
has a snout somewhat prolonged, and as flexible as an 
elephant's, but this snout or trunk is short, about the 
length of a tapir's, I should guess. I never measured a 
sea-elephant, but I should think they were from ten to 
twenty feet long, and that they weighed from one to three 
tons, the bulls being larger than the cows. They look 
much like huge leather water-bottles, filled to bursting 
with water, and dumped on the ground by tired porters. 

As we saw them there, they were lying on the grass- 
covered slopes, between the rocks. When we came too 
near, the beast would raise its head, wrinkle its nose, con- 
tract its proboscis until it lay flat on its face, and open its 
disgusting mouth, emitting what probably passed, among 
sea-elephants, for a growl or a hiss. As I remember them, 
the lower lip was very full and split, and they had a way 
of thrusting it forward, as if pouting. I may be wrong, 
for it is a long time to remember such details, and I was 
not engaged in a scientific investigation. I am sure only 
that the expression of their faces was very disgusting 
and expressed the most utter disgust. No doubt it repre- 
sented rage or alarm, perhaps both. When we advanced 
cautiously nearer still, the beast would bestir itself, rise 
up on its flippers, and go lumbering off with astonishing 


After one of these excursions, as Peter and Smith and 
I were approaching the shore where our boat lay, we saw 
a party of our men coming out of a ravine loaded to the 
gunwales with some sort of a plant. 

" What 's that they 've got ? " asked Smith. 

" It 's likely to be Kerguelen cabbage," Peter an- 

" I 've heard of it," said Smith. " Sort of medicine, 
isn't it?" 

Peter shook his head. " I 've never eaten any. You 're 
like to find out. It seems early in the season to pick 

Smith laughed, and started running to meet the men 
with the cabbages. He was just the build for a runner, 
tall and lean, and he ran well and easily. To tell the truth, 
I admired the man, while I disliked him heartily ; admired 
his physical qualities, which seemed unimpaired by his 
mode of life, while I disliked his attitude toward every- 
thing, and the kind of thoughts which seemed to occupy 
his mind — his mental attributes, or rather the attributes 
of the heart, as we are apt to put it. 

The captain was glad to get the cabbages, immature as 
they must have been, and they were fed to the crew in the 
next few days. There was a sort of oily essence in them, 
and they had a peculiar taste; but it was not unpleasant, 
once you were used to it, and the men had been without 
green vegetables for so long that they would have wel- 
comed anything. The effect upon their health was marked. 
Whenever we landed upon Desolation we laid in a supply 
of cabbages, and as long as we were in that neighborhood 
the crew were in the best of condition. 
- We sailed before sunrise the next morning, and began 
our long beat to the westward. The weather was still bad, 
with half a gale of wind, and fog, mist, or rain. In fact, 
the weather in the neighborhood of Kerguelen is uniformly 
bad, as far as my experience goes. We did not have a dozen 
days of clear sunshine in all the time we were there. 


Not long after this Captain Nelson got into a towering 
rage against Smith for insubordination, and against Mr. 
Snow for permitting it. Smith's insubordination was, in 
itself, a small matter. He had failed to carry out some or- 
der of Mr. Snow's, but had done something else instead. 
What he had done was just as good as what he had been 
ordered to do — it may have been better — but on a ship 
orders are orders, and must be obeyed. Mr. Snow, instead 
of insisting that his orders be obeyed, had first stormed 
and blustered, and then weakly pleaded with Smith. As far 
as I could gather, Smith had paid no attention to his 
storming, had smiled at his blustering, and disregarded 
his pleading, but had gone on with whatever he was doing. 
He had done it very well, and in a smart and seamanlike 
manner. There was no fault to be found with him on that 
count, but no shipmaster can pass over such rank and ob- 
vious disobedience. 

I had never seen Captain Nelson in a towering rage 
before, and I witnessed it but once again. Twice is once 
too many. When he was in such a rage he was quiet — ■ 
ominously quiet, although he was always a quiet man; his 
mouth became a straight, thin line half hidden by his 
beard, and his eyes were cold and hard. He summoned 
Smith to the cabin and asked him what he had to say for 
himself. I was not present, but the quarters on a whale- 
ship are not large, and the partitions are not sound-proof. 
I could imagine, easily enough, the captain's eyes boring 
through Smith, and Smith's opaque, china-blue eyes gaz- 
ing innocently at the captain; for Smith, in such an en- 
counter, was Captain Nelson's equal. In education and 
breeding he was superior, and I had no doubt that his ex- 
perience of clashes of the kind was far greater than the 
captain's; but Captain Nelson's mental processes were 
not devious, as Smith's were. He knew where he was going, 
and went by the most direct path. If he found anything in 
his way he smashed it. His intentions were good, and he 


had the authority, and he meant to maintain it ; this above 
all things. 

At first Smith pretended not to know what the captain 
was talking about, but the captain cut him short. Then 
he proceeded to explain why what he had done — I did 
not know just what it was — was better than what he 
had been ordered to do ; that it was dark, and they were in 
some hurry, and it saved time. Smith was a thorough sea- 
man — he would have been good at anything he undertook 
— and the seamanship shown in his explanation impressed 
Captain Nelson, and somewhat softened the rebuke which 
came. But it came. Smith was dismissed with the warn- 
ing that his first duty was to obey orders, and never to 
let it happen again. I had no difficulty in picturing his 
respectful, pleasant smile, and his bow, as he withdrew 
with a " Thank you, sir." 

Mr. Snow's interview was different. I did not hear him 
say anything. Captain Nelson's low voice said various 
cutting things very briefly. I could not hear all of it, but 
the gist of the captain's remarks was that one of the first 
duties of an officer was to maintain his authority; that he 
owed it to the ship, to his superiors, and to the owners, 
and that any officer who was unable to do so would be 
broken — deprived of his rank. Then I heard the murmur 
of Mr. Snow's voice as he asked a question. Captain 
Nelson's answer came like a bomb, with a blow of his fist 
upon the table. 

" Shoot him, sir ! Shoot him ! I 'd do it in a second." 

Then Mr. Snow faded out of the cabin. 

In the course of time we turned once more to leeward, 
and ran for Desolation. This time we did not land in the 
great bay to which we had first gone, but in a compar- 
atively small harbor farther to the westward. Nobody 
knew why we had come — at least, nobody but the cap- 
tain and perhaps some of the officers, and they said noth- 
ing. I ventured to ask Captain Nelson. 

256 SHE BL0WS1 

He smiled at my question. " May be something worth 
while, Tim," he said rather gruffly. " Never can tell." 

I said nothing more. There seemed to be nothing there 
that we wanted, and we got up our anchor, ran along the 
coast a little way, and poked our nose into the next harbor. 
There are a great many of these natural harbors along 
the coast of Kerguelen, deep, with mountainous sides, ex- 
cept on the western end. The prevailing winds are west- 
erly, and in the course of ages the sea has eaten into the 
shore of the windward end, and smoothed it out. 

We called at a number of these fiords. In one or two 
of them we anchored, and the men were given a chance 
to stretch their legs, only the officer in charge knowing 
his errand; into others we merely sailed, and then sailed 
out again. At last we struck one that seemed to be to the 
captain's liking, and a large party went ashore, headed by 
the captain. 

The captain carried a Spencer carbine, and so did Mr. 
Brown. Mr. Baker preferred a lance. There were but 
two of the Spencers available, and we had no ammunition 
to waste, although there was enough for ordinary occa- 
sions on a long voyage. The Spencer was a short, repeat- 
ing rifle, rather heavy, but an extremely handy gun. Its 
magazine carried seven cartridges, with a lead projectile 
half an inch in diameter, or thereabouts, and the rifle was 
sighted for half a mile, to the best of my recollection. It 
was a gun which had done good work in the Civil War, 
and there were a good many of them in New Bedford. 

When we had got away from the beach I was so glad 
to feel the springy turf under my feet that I ran ahead 
at the top of my speed, which was good enough to distance 
everybody, although several of the men were running 
clumsily. That is, I distanced everybody but Smith. He 
could outrun me easily, and kept ahead, flinging back 
over his shoulder good-natured taunts. Somewhat stung 
by his taunts, I went after him, and he led me off to one 


side, up a slope covered thickly with huge boulders, or 
perhaps outcroppings of rock. He ran up the steep sides 
of these rocks — as I thought, to show off — and I fol- 
lowed, struggling up where he had leaped, and jumping 
from the tops, as he had done. At last we came to a rock 
steeper and higher than any other that we had been over. 
Smith leaped lightly up its side, and jumped from its top. 
My breath was gone, and I was tired, but I managed to 
get up; my foot slipped as I was about to jump, and I 
fell instead, striking my head. 

When I came to myself Smith was on the top of the 
great rock from which I had fallen, bending over, his 
hands busy with a big round stone which rested on the 
rock, very near the edge. Even in my dazed condition I 
knew enough to spring out of the way, for the stone would 
have fallen upon me in a few seconds more. 

" What are you doing?" I cried angrily. 

Smith smiled pleasantly, and kept on tugging at the 
stone. " Only trying to move this stone. I was afraid it 
would fall on you." 

My head was clearing — and aching. I was sure the 
stone had not been there when I fell. And why, if his 
object was to save me, had Smith not dragged me out of 
its way? It would have been easier, and simpler, and the 
natural thing to do. Was he trying to kill me, and in a 
way which would make my death seem a regrettable acci- 
dent ? It was not to be borne. A great rage filled my heart 
as the question seemed to answer itself. 

Upon landing, I had provided myself with a club, 
as a boy will naturally pick up any handy stick. That 
club lay where I had fallen; but I staggered to my feet, 
and got it. In that moment I became as mad as any Ber- 
serker. Nothing could hurt me, nothing could stop me. 
I would kill Smith. I was no longer small, but fairly 
grown, and I was strong. I heaved up my club, and I 
suppose I glared at Smith. He stood there, on top of the 


rock, and laughed; and I walked around the rock, look- 
ing for a place to mount, where it would be less like 
storming a citadel. Smith laughed as if he would split; 
and there came a call for me, and Peter and Mr. Brown 
hove in sight. 

I did not kill Smith. As I stood there, breathing hard, 
my rage left me suddenly, as my rages always did. Smith 
jumped down off the rock, and came to me, smiling, as 
though to say something, but I turned away. In my heart 
I was sure of him now. He went to Mr. Brown, and 
said something about my fall, and about its having put 
me out of my head for a time. Mr. Brown listened, but 
made no reply. 

After spending nearly the whole day in tramping over 
hills, we went back to the ship empty-handed. I did not 
know what we had been looking for. 

It was February, 1 874, before we left Desolation behind 
us, and headed northerly for warmer seas. There was not a 
man aboard who was not glad to see the last of this home 
of gales and wet and cold. 


For five days the wind held from the westward, and we 
held a course a little east of north. I saw the chart every 
day, and sometimes pricked the position of the ship on it. 
I took an occasional observation, and worked out that 
position, checking up my observation and the position 
worked out from it by the captain's. I really think that 
I knew more of the mathematics of the matter than he 
did. In another respect' Captain Nelson had an immense 
advantage. That was in dead reckoning, which was very 
important where we had clear skies, either by day or by 
night, only about half the time or less. 

The prickings on the chart pointed straight for Am- 
sterdam Island, with St. Paul possibly rising above the 
horizon to leeward. Then we ran into head winds and a 
gale, which lasted for two days. That gale lost me com- 
pletely. I tried dead reckoning, and I was so mortified 
about it that I did not mention it to anybody. I spent all 
my spare time, for the first day after we ran out of the 
bad weather, in trying to reconcile my reckoning with the 

It was nearly sunset when I gave it up finally, and 
went on deck, feeling rather low in my mind, for the ob- 
servation on that day had shown the official reckoning 
to be only a few miles out. I stood at the rail, under the 
stern of the waist boat, and gazed out moodily over the 
water, cursing myself; for I had got into the way of the 
ship long before, and could curse fluently, although I was 
no expert at it, as Mr. Baker was. 

I must have been muttering my curses aloud, for I 
heard a voice at my shoulder. It was Peter. 


"What's gone wrong, lad?" he asked, half laughing. 
" Cussing won't mend it." 

I turned to him k " I don't know about that, Peter/' I 
said. " It relieves my mind. I feel better already." 

He laughed. "Do you so? Well, mebbe. But, Timmie, 
I '11 have something for you to-morrow." 

" Got your model done, Peter?" I asked eagerly. I had 
been but little in the forecastle for months. I did not want 
to have to speak to Smith, or even to see him. 

" Mebbe I have," he answered, smiling. " Mebbe I 
have. I could be tinkering at it longer, but I don't be- 
lieve 't would better it. I '11 give it to you to-morrow." 

"Can't you give it to me now, Peter? You might as 
well. You won't do anything more to it." 

" Well," said Peter, almost coyly. " Well, I might get 
it now. But come up for'ard, or into the fo'c's'le. I ought 
not to be standing here, gamming." 

I hesitated. I was reluctant to go into the forecastle. 
" I don't like to, Peter. I — you see — Smith — " 

" Aye," said Peter soberly, " I know. Smith — well 
he '11 get the lance the first thing he knows. He 's worse 
and worse, as independent as a clerk; fair reckless. The 
old man gave him another dressing-down a few days ago, 
a stiff one. Did you know it? " 

I nodded. I knew it, although I did not hear it. 

"And he bragged of it," Peter went on; "came back 
to us, and bragged of it, and laughed at the old man and 
the officers. Said he 'd been threatened, and he 'd show 
the old man yet. Mr. Snow 's afraid of him, to speak 
plainly, and he 's got the idea that the others are 
too, at heart. And he 's got the men discontented and 
grumbling. It 's my idea that he thinks they '11 be ready 
soon for anything he proposes. I don't know why the old 
man don't do something about it. He must know." 

I checked the reply which was on my lips, for Smith 
was approaching at that moment. He always contrived to 


pass when Peter and I were talking. He was suspicious, 
very likely, but did not show it. He gave us a smile and 
a pleasant word. 

" Come on, then," said Peter, turning to go forward, 
" and I '11 get it." 

I followed, and waited by the foremast while Peter 
dived below. He emerged in a minute, holding the model 
in his hand. 

" I hope you '11 like it, lad," he said, " and it may give 
you some pleasure to look at it now and again, and remind 
you of the years you spent in the old ship." 

"Oh, Peter!" I said. "Oh, Peter! Like it!" It was a 
fairy thing, with its ivory sails so thin that you could 
almost see through them, and the tiny boats complete 
down to the smallest thing in them ; every oar, lance, har- 
poon, and keg in its proper place. There were even ivory 
knives on the cleats. And the model of the ship itself had 
every rope and block, and every ring-bolt in the deck ; and 
the deck showed each plank, even to the worn places in 
the actual deck. 

I had not seen the model for some time, and had not ex- 
pected that it would be so faithful; but I should have 
known Peter better. 

He was smiling with gratification. " It 's not likely that 
it '11 give you the pleasure it has me," he said. " I 've been 
slow at it, but I 've been doing a thing or two along with 
it, and what 's a little time ? Take it along, Timmie. I '11 
make you a case for it, so 's you can pack it in your 

" Th«nk you, Peter," I began. " I '11 keep it always." So 
I have kept it. The ivory is now much yellowed by time, 
but it is the same delicate, fairy-like thing, and as perfect 
as ever. I should have said more, and was smiling and 
hesitating, not knowing what to say, when the watch was 
gent aloft to shorten sail. 

" What 'a that for, Peter ?" I asked in surprise. Wo 


were not cruising, and normally we should not have short- 
ened sail. 

" I don't know, lad. It 's breezing up a bit, and it 's like 
enough the old man 's afraid he '11 overrun whatever he 's 
aiming for. He did n't say anything to me about it. You 
might ask him what he means by it." 

I laughed. Captain Nelson was on deck, standing just 
forward of the after house, where he had a clear view of 
all that went on aloft. In view of what happened, I think 
he had a definite purpose in being there. 

When the men were sent aloft to handle sail it was the 
established custom for the boatsteerers to take the yard- 
arms. The other men would lay out along the yard in ac- 
cordance with their speed and activity, the fattest and the 
laziest getting the bunt of the sail; but however good a 
man might be, it was his duty to give way to the boat- 
steerers. The yardarms were the places of honor, as the 
duties there called for the greatest skill and quickness. 
Joe Miller was good, but he was neither as skilful nor as 
quick as Smith. Smith knew it, as we all did. He may 
have craved the chance to show off before the men, or it 
may have been only a part of his scheme to exalt Smith 
and to bring into disrepute all in authority ; but he reached 
the crosstrees two jumps ahead of Miller, and was on 
the footropes before him. 

Miller stopped for a moment and ordered Smith to 
come in and let him pass. Smith paid no attention to the 
order. Miller repeated it, but Smith was already at the 
lee yardarm, and he looked back at Miller and snarled 
silently — like a cat — fixing him with those opaque 
china-blue eyes of his. A fight on a yard with Smith was 
not to Miller's liking, and he looked down on deck, where 
Mr. Snow stood. Mr. Snow bravely bellowed out the or- 
der once more, but Smith paid no attention, affecting not 
to hear. Mr. Snow had turned away immediately, and 
after a moment's hesitation, Miller went to work next 


to Smith. The other men on the yard had hard work to 
suppress their snickers. 

Captain Nelson had observed it, as he observed almost 
everything. He told Mr. Snow to send Smith aft. 

The Clearchus was an old ship, and had single topsails 

— not divided into upper and lower topsails, as they were 
on all of the later vessels. It made an enormous sail, 
clumsy and hard to handle. When they had the foretopsail 
reefed and the men had come down, Smith came aft. Cap- 
tain Nelson was waiting for him. 

" My man," he said very sternly and quietly, " you 
have disobeyed orders again. I warn you for the third time 

— and the last time. The next time I shall act, and sud- 
denly. You '11 do well not to let the next time happen. Not 
a word from you ! " he added, for Smith was about to 
speak. " Go forward ! " 

Smith turned — smiling, I guessed, when his back was 
turned to the captain — and went forward. My heart was 
in my throat for a few minutes. Anything might have hap- 
pened. I had dim forebodings as I turned in that night, 
picturing to myself a repetition of what happened on the 
Junior, and I lay awake for some time. I do not know 
that I was frightened; rather, I think, it was the elation 
with which I anticipated a fight, and it was excitement 
which kept me awake. I had my mind made up to stay 
awake all night, but it takes a good deal to keep a healthy 
boy awake all night when he is in the open air all day, 
with the wind from thousands of miles of ocean blowing 
upon him, and when I awoke with a start it was daylight. 

Everything was serene when T got on deck. The wind 
was high from the southwest, with an occasional screech- 
ing gust; but the sky was clear, the sun showed bright, 
and the Clearchus slogged along, pitching and rolling. 
I had my model with me, for I was as anxious to show it 
and have it admired as a child with a new toy. Indeed, 
that was exactly what I was. 


In these various exhibitions two hours passed. At the 
end of that time I found myself with Starbuck and the 
Prince standing by the starboard rail, just forward of the 
gangway. They saw Peter, called to him, and he joined us. 
Starbuck had the model in his hand, turning it from side 
to side, and gazing at it soberly. 

" 'T would have more beauty," Peter observed, " if 
't was a model of the Annie Battles. I should like to carve 
one of the Battles." 

" It has beauty enough," said Starbuck thoughtfully. 
" How long is it since we 've seen the Battles ?" 

" Nigh on to a year," Peter replied, counting up the 
months. " We 'd almost forgotten her. Most of the crew 's 
clean forgotten." 

" I have n't," said Starbuck. " I 've always wondered 
what happened on the Battles — what happened to Fred 
Coffin. I 'm sure enough that something did." 

Peter agreed with him, and the Prince grunted. I, for a 
wonder, said nothing. At that instant the cry came down 
from the masthead, " Land, ho ! " It took a sailor to under- 
stand that cry; to others it would have been as unintel- 
ligible as a brakeman's cry of the name of a station. 

Landfall must have been expected, for Captain Nelson 
was on deck with his glass. He did not even ask the usual 
question, " Where away ?" but went at once up the main 
rigging and searched the horizon on the lee bow. Pres- 
ently he came down and spoke to the officer of the watch. 

" Well as she goes." 

" Well as she goes," the officer repeated ; and repeated 
the order to the man at the wheel, who was within easy 
hearing of the captain. 

" Well as she goes," said the man at the wheel, and 
kept her on her course. 

" What is it, Peter?" I asked. " Amsterdam?" 

Peter nodded. "Yes, lad." We had passed St. Paul 
early in the night before. It would have been well out of 
sight, anyway. 


Amsterdam soon rose within sight from the deck, and 
1 went down and got my glass and left my precious model. 
I found a secluded spot where I should not be likely to be 
seen, and watched the island as we drew nearer. I saw 
steep slopes, densely wooded, rising from the sea to a 
great height, but nothing else was to be distinguished, 
even when we were pretty near. At last we had the island 
abeam, not over three miles away. I had the glass at my 
eyes, and was slowly sweeping over the surface, up and 
down, and to and fro. Nothing appeared but the green 
of the tops of trees or bushes, I could not tell which, but 
they looked like trees. As I moved the glass systemati- 
cally, so that I could see the whole of the island and lose 
nothing, suddenly I came again to the sea; but there had 
seemed to be something like a little spot of color, and it 
fluttered. It had shown on the silhouette of the island, 
against the sky, and I could not be sure of the color. I had 
passed it by, and lost it, before it had impressed itself on 
my attention; but I hunted for it again, and I found it at 

The ship had advanced enough to show the green of 
tree-tops beyond the fluttering thing by the time I had 
found it again. I looked a long time before I could make 
out what it was, but I finally made it out. About halfway 
up the long slope a tree had been stripped of its upper 
branches, so that it made a tolerable pole. To this pole 
had been fastened a sailor's common red woolen under- 
shirt; that was what it was — what it had been. It had 
been there for a long time, for it showed but a faint trace 
of its color, and it had whipped to a rag in the winds. 
The instant I knew it for what it was, my heart jumped 
up into my throat, and I jumped up and raced aft. 

Captain Nelson listened to the brief tale which I poured 
out hurriedly, the words tumbling over each other in my 

He nodded. " All right, Tim," he said. " We 're going in 
there, and we '11 see what it means." 


Amsterdam Island is an ancient volcano. On the north- 
east, or leeward side of the island, the old crater walls 
have crumbled somewhat, making a harbor of a sort, and 
it was there we were bound. Soon after I spoke to the cap- 
tain the yards were braced around, and we changed our 
course to the eastward. Then the men were sent aloft to 
take in sail. It happened once more that it was Smith's 
watch, and the captain watched him narrowly. He sprang 
up the fore rigging — again ahead of Miller — and took 
his station at the f oretopsail yardarm — the lee yardarm. 

Mr. Snow was not on deck. I found afterward that he 
had been suspended from duty. 

Captain Nelson was in the second of his cold rages, 
— the last I ever saw. He said nothing to Smith, however, 
but he turned to me. 

" Tim," he said distinctly, " go below and get my Spen- 
cer and a clip of cartridges, and bring them to me. Hurry." 

I remember very clearly how mixed my feelings were 
as I dived into the cabin and got down the captain's 
Spencer. I did not dream that Smith would not obey orders 
when the captain had his rifle in his hands — if he knew 
the captain. It did not occur to me that perhaps he did not 
know the captain. 

I put the loaded rifle in Captain Nelson's hands, and 
stood to one side. 

" Foretopsail yard, there ! " he hailed. " You Smith ! " 

Smith looked up. 

" Lay in off that yard ! " 

Smith insolently put his hand behind his ear, as if he 
had not heard. His hearing was particularly good, and 
the captain knew it. 

" Lay in off that yard ! " the captain roared. There 
could be no excuse for not understanding that. 

I do not know whether Smith was simply crazy, or 
whether he thought no captain would dare to shoot a man. 
I did not really believe it would come to that, but when I 


«aw Smith deliberately put his thumb to his nose, and 
wiggle his fingers at the captain, I knew that it was the 
end of him. And the captain raised his rifle, and shot 
Smith through the head. What else could he do? It was a 
flagrant case of mutiny. All pretense of discipline, all au- 
thority would have been at an end if he had not. To many 
it may seem like murder. I never knew the rights of the 
matter, but nothing was ever done about it. 

The crew had stopped work for the moment, to see how 
the contest was coming out. When the shot rang out — 
Spencers did not ring out; it was more like a blow of a 
sledge — and through the smoke I saw Smith throw up his 
hands, I gasped. As the body fell like lead into the sea, a 
gasp went up from the men; then I heard a sort of mur- 
muring from them. They were thrown into consternation. 
Some went to work again with shaking hands, others 
stopped work entirely. Those on deck stirred and moved 
about uncertainly. I was reminded of the ripples which 
cross and recross when a stone is thrown into a corner of 
a dock. 

Captain Nelson called to them sharply. " To your duty, 
men ! In with that topsail ! " He tapped his rifle as he 

" Are n't you going to lower a boat for him ?" The ques- 
tion came from the group of men about the foremast. 

" No. He 's a dead man, and a mutineer. I lower no 
boat for him." 

The men on the yard were at their work again, and the 
murmurings quickly died out. In five minutes more they 
were all as busy as though nothing had happened. Captain 
Nelson surprised everybody by ordering a boat lowered. 
Mr. Baker gave the captain a curious look, but said noth- 
ing, and proceeded to lower. 

"Poor devil ! " said the captain, whose burst of anger 
had exhausted itself. " I had to do it. Follow us in to an- 
chorage, Mr. Baker, and if you find the body we '11 at- 
tend to it." 


On my wall above the model, as I sit here now, hangs 
Smith's knife: the one to which Peter owed his life. I got 
possession of it — honestly — later, and I kept it for — 
well, because I wanted to keep it. There are associations 
connected with that knife. The idea of getting possession 
of it seized me as Mr. Baker lowered and dropped astern 
to search for Smith's body. 

We left him quartering the water carefully in the 
search, and drifted down to our anchorage less than a 
half-mile from a little beach. Three scarecrows stood upon 
that beach, and watched us come to anchor. They were clad 
in rags, and had ragged, bushy beards. I was looking at 
them through my glass, but I did not know them, and did 
not expect to. They stood quite still on the beach waiting 
for our boat, which had been dropped as soon as we 
rounded to, and before the anchor was let go. 

Captain Nelson stood by the after house, looking after 
the boat, and waiting for it to come back. It came at last, 
and the three men came easily over the side. The first was 
a big man, as big as my father, with a smile like his. He 
advanced toward the captain, with his hand out, and the 
captain went to meet him. 

"Glad to see you, Cap'n," he said in a big, gentle voice. 

" How are you, Fred ? " said Captain Nelson, with a 
hearty grip of his hand. "Kind o' thought I might find 
you somewhere about." 

It was Captain Coffin of the Annie Battles. 


Mr. Baker came back to the ship about a couple of hours 
after the marooned men had come aboard. He had spent 
more than an hour in going to and fro, looking for Smith's 
body, but had seen no sign of it, and had concluded that 
it had sunk at once. That seemed strange, for the lungs 
must have been full of air, but nobody gave it a second 
thought unless some of the most disaffected of the crew 
did; none of them, in all probability, gave so much as a 
first thought to the fact. I do not really doubt that Smith 
was dead, and that his body was swaying about in the ooze 
at the bottom of the sea, unless the sharks got it first. But 
I remember that soon after I got home, I saw an account 
— merely an item of a few lines in a shipping paper — of 
a man's having been taken off Amsterdam Island, and the 
description of the man might have been the description 
of Smith. He had forgotten who he was and how he got 
there, and he had been badly hurt, but he had managed 
to live alone for two years on the island. However, 
whether that was Smith or not, he passed out of our lives 
when he dropped from the yard. 

Captain Coffin was in the cabin with Captain Nelson 
when Mr. Baker's boat's crew came over the side. Mr. 
Baker showed no surprise when he heard of it, but Star- 
buck did. He immediately sought out the two men who had 
come aboard with Captain Coffin, and I suppose he got 
their story. I was not free, as I was wanted to wait upon 
the two captains ; but that was no disadvantage, for I got 
the story as Captain Coffin told it to Captain Nelson. 
They sat at the cabin table, leaning back in their chairs at 
their ease, with a pitcher of hot rum and water between 
them. I remember the pitcher exactly. It was a rather 


small white crockery pitcher, with a bluish tinge, such as 
they used to serve water in at country hotels, only smaller. 
They sat there quietly, and the hot rum and water steamed 
gently between them; and Captain Coffin had his fingers 
clasped loosely about his glass, but he drank little, and 
that in little sips. Between times he either gazed content- 
edly out of the cabin window, saying nothing, or he spoke 
briefly of his experiences in the Battles or on Amsterdam. 
His utterances were never long at any one time, but al- 
ways punctuated by a sip and a long look out of the win- 
dow. Captain Nelson said nothing at all. I stuck around 
rather more closely than was necessary. 

It was the old story of mutiny, but in this case for no 
reason whatever except that the mutineers saw a good 
chance of taking the vessel. The ringleaders must have 
laid their plans before the Battles sailed, Captain Coffin 
thought, and have enlisted some of the crew in the scheme. 
Possibly Wallet knew about it also. They met the Clear- 
chus at every opportunity, until Wallet went aboard of the 
Battles, where he was at the time when Captain Coffin 
told the story, so far as he knew ; but he had turned out to 
be such a pusillanimous cuss that he had not been able to 
maintain himself in the position first given him. The 
bothering of the Clearchus was but incidental; but the 
crew got so much fun out of their sport with us — or 
Drew did, which was more to the point — that they could 
not resist the temptation to try it whenever they had the 

Sam Drew was the leader in the mutiny. At the name 
Captain Nelson grunted, and said that he knew Sam Drew, 
and had never known any good of him. Captain Coffin 
nodded, and went on with the story. It had all happened 
before they got to Fayal. Drew was a boatsteerer. 0m'. 
morning, as Captain Coffin came on deck, six men fell 
upon him at once, pinioning his hands, his arms and his 
legs, and throttling him. They must have rehearsed their 


parts pretty thoroughly, for each man seized some par- 
ticular member, and clung to it; he was seized around the 
knees, as in a tackle at football — football had hardly de- 
veloped the tackle at that time — and thrown to the deck, 
while the sixth man choked him. Captain Coffin is a tough 
customer to attack, and the men knew it. With two men on 
each arm, and choked by another, while the man who had 
tackled him took a turn about his ankles with the slack of 
the main sheet, he still put up a stiff fight, and almost got 
the two men on his right arm overboard. The odds were 
too great, however. He was soon bound hand and foot, 
tied to a stanchion, gasping for breath. 

He had been aware of a struggle going on forward. He 
now saw Mr. Mayhew, his first mate, beheaded by a single 
stroke of a spade, and Jim Carter, the second mate, badly 
wounded by a lance. The third mate was not to be seen, 
but he was soon brought up from below. Then Drew called 
a council of a few of his cronies — a Council of State, 
perhaps — and spoke briefly to them. Captain Coffin could 
not hear what he said to them, but he heard plainly what 
he said afterward. 

" Over with him, men," he said, indicating the body of 
poor Mayhew. 

The body was unceremoniously pitched into the sea, 
and the head after it. Then the men hesitated. 

" Over with him ! " said Drew impatiently. " You know 
what happens to the man who refuses to obey orders." 

The men laid hold of the wounded Carter and began 
dragging him to the rail. He was too badly wounded to 
resist, but Captain Coffin struggled and roared at them. 
The men hesitated again, but Drew smiled. 

" Never mind him," he said. " He can't do anything. 
I 'm in command of this vessel now. Over with him ! " 

They got Carter up on the rail, and pitched him into the 
sea. Then Drew turned to the third mate. He, poor fellow, 
was not wounded. He saw that his fate was to be left 


swimming in the middle of the Atlantic, and he tried to 
meet that fate like a man. It was too much. He could not ; 
and when Drew offered him the choice of joining them or 
of going over the side, he joined. It is hard to blame him 
for his choice. 

Captain Coffin then saw the men start for him; but it 
vas only to carry him below and to throw him on his bunk, 
2>ound as he was. He lay there until the next morning. 

Drew came to him about the middle of the forenoon, at 
just about four bells, and sat down beside him and said 
he wanted to have a talk. He said that, unfortunately, the 
third mate had fallen overboard during the night. This 
may have been true, or he may have been distrusted and 
have been thrown overboard, or his conscience may have 
tortured him so that he jumped overboard. Captain Coffin 
never knew which was the truth, but the fact was that he 
was no longer there, and the vessel was without a naviga- 
tor excepting the captain. Drew, therefore, had a proposi- 
tion to make, and the captain could take it or leave it. It 
was this : that the captain should navigate, under guard in 
his cabin, coming out only at night for observations. If 
he would not consent to that he would follow his three 

That was rather a hard choice ; but Captain Coffin could 
see no gain to anybody by his being thrown overboard, 
while, if he accepted, there might be a chance of getting 
his vessel back. He did not see how, and he had no plans, 
but there would be time enough to make them. So he ac- 
cepted Drew's offer, on condition that he was to be free in 
his cabin, and that he was not to be compelled to speak to 
any of them. Drew smilingly agreed to those conditions; 
and it had been strictly true that he was " confined to his 
cabin, " and that he left written instructions on the cabin 
table every morning. Thereafter, he saw nothing except 
the view obtained from his stateroom port, and a brief 
nightly view of the starlit heavens and a wide, dark sea. 


Drew himself told him where they wanted to go, and he 
did the rest. 

This state of affairs continued until he had navigated, 
according to instructions, to Amsterdam Island, and had 
come to anchor there. He knew nothing of what had taken 
place on the schooner since the mutiny, as he was at all 
times closely guarded. Then he was told briefly to come 
along, and was taken ashore with the two other men — 
both foremast hands — and left there, with nothing but 
what they had on their persons. Why they did not simply 
throw all three of them overboard he could not imagine, 
unless they had had enough of murder; and why he had 
been permitted to navigate so long, when they had a com- 
petent navigator in Wallet, he did not see. But so it was. 
No doubt Wallet had been navigator since; the nine 
months that they had been on Amsterdam. His plans — he 
had made many — had come to nothing, but what could he 
have done, and why was the situation not better as it was 
than it would have been if he had allowed himself to be 
thrown overboard? Tell him that. 

To that Captain Nelson growled assent. " Where 'd 
you get your flag?" he asked. 

Captain Coffin straightened in his chair, and brought his 
fist down on the table. " Gorry ! " he cried. " I forgot that 
flag. I '11 have to go ashore and take it down. It 's my 

" Only one you had ? " 

" 'Course. 'D you think I wore two? * 


" Sometimes. But that 's nothing, and it 's over and done 

The two captains sat silent for a while, Captain Coffin 
gazing out of the cabin window. 

" I aimed," he said at last, " to wreck her, if nothing 
better turned up, when we got where there were some 
people, and my chance would be as good as the next man's. 


I guess Drew knew it, and thought he 'd better get rid of 
me. I had the Keelings in mind, or Sunda Strait " — he 
called it Sunday — "or some parts thereabouts, if the 
weather turned favorable for wrecking. Pretty bad gales 
at the Keelings in the season. Well — that 's all, I guess. 
I 'd like to come across the Battles again. Maybe I '11 be 
able to get some fast little schooner, and some kind of a 
crew, at Batavia, and go after her. I 'd spend my last cent 
on it." 

Captain Nelson grunted again. " I 'd give you a berth 
here if I had one. Better make up your mind to stay on 
this ship, Fred, and we '11 see what turns up. I '11 ship your 
two men. We 're two men short." Then he told about 

" Good ! " cried Captain Coffin. " Good ! Just right, and 
just like you, Cap'n. I 'd have given something to have 
the chance on the Battles, but there was never a suspicion. 
Drew was too smart. He 's a damned smart man." 

" H'm! " Captain Nelson was noncommittal. " Now that 
we 're here, we may as well lay in some wood. I '11 have 
the men take down that shirt of yours." 

Then he turned to me, and told me that I might as well 
go on deck, for they would not need my services right 
away. I took the hint, and went. After all, stories of mu- 
tinies are much alike; they differ only in details. But the 
two captains sat there a couple of hours longer, with the 
fresh pitcher of hot rum and water which I had brought 
just before I came up. 

Something turned up sooner than they could have ex- 
pected. We were only a day at Amsterdam laying in wood, 
for we did not really need wood. Our anchor was up the 
next afternoon and we sailed to the northeast, bound either 
to Sunda Strait, or for a cruise along the south coast of 
Java, as circumstances might determine. We had been out 
about a week, and were getting into more comfortable 
weather, when I was awakened, very early one morning, 


by a rumpus on deck. There were shouts, a tramping of 
feet, and a heavy report, like that of a Spencer gun. My 
heart jumped up into my throat, I was completely awake, 
there was that prickling sensation at the roots of my hair, 
my breath came short and hard, and I found that I was 
smiling. It was no use, I was always taken that way 
when any kind of a fight promised. I could no more help 
it than I could help breathing; not so easily. I scrambled 
into some clothes and ran up the ladder. 

I came out into the gray, melancholy half-light of early 
dawn. I was conscious of it and of the whispering sea 
about us. If I had ever contemplated suicide, I am sure it 
would have been at just that time of day, for that is the 
time when a man's fortitude is at the lowest ebb, every- 
thing looks black, and the future holds no promise. The 
darkest night is not nearly so bad. That gray loneliness of 
early dawn is an equally fitting time to choose for going 
insane, and Mr. Snow seemed to have chosen it for that 
purpose. He was standing in the same spot that Captain 
Nelson occupied when he dropped Smith from the yard, 
and was living over that experience, with himself in the 
captain's place. A Spencer was in his right hand, the bar- 
rel in the hollow of his left arm, and a long, sharp lance 
leaned against the after house. Now and then he bellowed 
an order at an imaginary man on the yard, and that was 
apparently what he had shot at. Spencer bullets, however, 
are not imaginary, and nothing was to be seen of the men 
of the watch. They had run forward and taken refuge be- 
hind the foremast, the try-works, and anything that offered 
shelter. I caught a glimpse of one poor fellow who had 
taken refuge behind the mainmast, almost directly in 
front of Mr. Snow, and who was trying his level best to 
make himself small. Mr. Snow did not notice him ; did not 
see him. All his attention was directed to that foretopsail 

Less than half a minute had gone since the report of 


the Spencer had startled me into full wakefulness. I had 
my trousers on, but I had not stopped to button them, 
trusting to one suspender to hold them in place. I had come 
up the booby-hatch, a very few feet behind Mr. Snow, and 
although I was barefoot, I must have made considerable 
noise; but he was so taken up with his bellowing and flour- 
ishing that he did not hear me. I think I might have come 
through the deck at his very feet and run into him without 
his being aware of it. I heard quiet stirrings on the cabin 
ladder and down the booby-hatch, and I knew that the 
mates and boatsteerers would be on hand in a few sec- 
onds ; and noises in the cabin told me that Captain Nelson 
would not be far behind. Mr. Snow's attention had at last 
been attracted by a movement behind the mainmast — 
the man there was so scared that he could not keep still — 
and he raised his rifle. It was like shooting point-blank at 
the side of a barn. He might easily hit the man, who had 
v not sense enough to keep behind the mast, but kept pop- 
ping out. I was upon him in one jump, had him about the 
body from behind, and was grabbing for the rifle. 

I was much taller and stronger than when I had tackled 
Lupo, and Mr. Snow was not the man that Lupo was. 
Still, I was not prepared for the strength that he showed. 
Although I succeeded in deflecting the rifle, he managed 
to discharge it, catching the flesh of my thumb partly 
under the hammer, making a wound that bothered me for 
weeks. The bullet ploughed up the deck. Then another 
pair of arms enveloped him. It was Mr. Macy, and in his 
arms Mr. Snow was helpless. Then the boatsteerers and 
the other mates appeared, with the captain just behind 
them, and I let go my hold and fell back. 

Mr. Snow was violently insane, there was no doubt 
about that. He struggled, shouted, and foamed at the 
mouth. They took him below, and he was kept locked in 
his cabin for two days, but he made such a row there that 
nobody could get much sleep. On the second day he sue- 


ceeded in setting fire to his mattress, which made a great 
smoke and almost smothered him. The fire was put out and 
he was resuscitated; but Captain Nelson was forced, for 
the safety of the ship, to put him in irons and remove him 
from the cabin. I used to hear his cries and shouts for 
days, issuing from the bowels of the Clearchus somewhere. 
Finally they stopped, and I was afraid that he had died; 
but the steward told me that he was only sulking, and 
would not say a word, or take any notice of him when he 
carried food to him. I did not blame Mr. Snow for that, 
and thought it might be a symptom of returning sanity. 
The steward was a thoroughly obnoxious little pest and 
had a special animosity toward Mr. Snow for continuing 
to live and adding to his work. Poor fellow! I refer to 
Mr. Snow, and not to the steward. What an unhappy time 
he must have had ever since we left Cape Town! 

We were standing to the northeast, for the Keeling 
Islands, hoping to find some homeward-bound whaler 
there to which we could transfer our crazy man. Imagine 
having such a passenger foisted upon you; but nobody 
seemed to have any doubt that any whaler going home 
would take him. It seemed to be his only chance — and 
ours. It was wearing upon the nerves of every one in the 
ship to hear the noises that he made, and then to have the 
noises stop. I used to listen for them, and Peter said that 
the men used to; and the men were highly superstitious, 
as ignorant sailors are apt to be. I have no shame in ac- 
knowledging that I was superstitious myself. The men 
maintained that nothing but bad luck would come from it, 
and I found myself of their opinion, although I knew well 
enough that it was foolish and had no sense or reason in 
it, unless the very belief of the men should bring on the 
thing they feared. Nevertheless, I was in suspense — 
waiting for it. 

The bad luck came soon enough. We had got about half- 
way to the Kcelings, and had not seen a single spout That 


did not bother Captain Nelson, for I have no reason to 
think he was expecting to see any; but one afternoon we 
raised a solitary spout to leeward. We had struck the 
southeast trades two days before, and were then bowling 
along merrily, the ship making a great fuss, but not so 
much headway as anybody would be led to think who did 
not know her ways. The wind was strong from a little 
south of east, which made it as nearly close-hauled as was 
comfortable for the Clearchus, and it was typical trade- 
wind weather. The whale was about three or four miles 
off the lee bow when we first saw his spout. 

We did not lower at once; indeed, there was doubt 
whether we should lower at all. I saw Captain Nelson 
gazing at the spout for a long time, evidently in doubt 
what to do. Obviously, he hated to lose the time, for he 
was anxious to get Mr. Snow started home as soon as 
possible, and any delay might mean that he would miss the 
ship which otherwise he would catch. I could almost see 
the arguments which passed through his mind. Captain 
Nelson was a tender-hearted man under his crust, and I 
believe his anxiety was entirely for Mr. Snow, and that he 
was thinking of getting him started home as soon as pos- 
sible rather than contemplating the relief it would be to 
get rid of him. But obviously, too, he was out for whales, 
and there was one within easy reach ; " she blows and she 
breaches, and sparm at that," to quote the immortal classic 
of Captain Simmons. " He is sceerce, and ile is money." 
That settled it. Captain Nelson began to move slowly to 
and fro, and I knew that we should lower as soon as we 
got into a favorable position. 

Soon after Mr. Snow's collapse Captain Coffin had been 
offered the fourth mate's berth until there should be some- 
thing better. He took it at once, like the good sport he was. 
The two men who came with him relieved the sailmaker 
and me, so that I was now nothing but cabin boy. I did not 


like being unceremoniously pushed out of my boat in that 
way, but there was nothing to do or say about it, so I held 
my peace, and tried to be contented. 

Mr. Baker and Captain Coffin lowered — I suppose I 
should not speak of him as Captain Coffin now, as he was 
temporarily fourth mate, and plain Mr. Coffin. The whale 
was travelling about as fast as the ship, and had not soun- 
ded since we had sighted him. There was something a little 
odd about the way he travelled, but it was nothing very ex- 
traordinary, and it was only after we had been watching 
him for a good while that it was forced upon our atten- 
tion. It turned out that the whale was blind. Mr. Tilton 
was the first man to say what was the matter, and it 
dawned upon him only when he saw how the whale acted 
while the boats were pulling up to strike. 

They approached from the rear, where the whale could 
not have seen them in any case. Mr. Baker was to star- 
board of him, and about a boat's length ahead of Mr. 
Coffin, who was to port. The wash of the seas under the 
strong trade wind was enough to nearly drown the noise 
of the oars, and the men were pulling hard. Mr. Baker was 
just drawing past the flukes, when the whale seemed to 
feel that everything was not as it should be. The slow, 
steady, pumping motion of the flukes ceased, and the great 
flukes moved from side to side, feeling, as delicately and 
gently as the antennae of an insect, for whatever they 
might find. Mr. Baker pulled ahead, and avoided them. 
Mr. Coffin tried to avoid them, but could not, for they 
were just abeam of him, and the men felt the gentle touch 
upon the keel amidships. At that moment Starbuck planted 
his first iron near the side fin, and at that touch upon the 
keel, Miller, knowing instantly that something would 
happen, hastily seized a harpoon, and darted. The harpoon 
struck just under the hump. There was no chance for a 
second iron, for the flukes lifted convulsively, staving in 


two planks, and rolling the boat over; then came down in 
a smashing blow upon the water, and the whale started 
to run. 

The men of Captain Coffin's boat were swimming about 
the wreck. I was watching through my old glass, and 
counted heads. There was one missing, although I could 
not tell, at that distance, who it was. Mr. Baker was fast 
disappearing, to the eastward, in the foaming wake of the 
whale. Still watching, I thought I saw a head suddenly bob 
up in the sea behind the whale. I lost it, and, after a long 
search, I found it again. The man, whoever he was, seemed 
to be having difficulty in swimming. I dropped the glass 
to the end of its lanyard, where it swung and bumped 
against my chest at every jump, while I ran to tell Captain 
Nelson. Mr. Brown lowered at once, and went after him. 

Mr. Brown was soon back with Captain Coffin, who had 
torn a tendon in his ankle. He had been caught under his 
boat when it rolled over, and a tub of line had been emp- 
tied over him, entangling him completely. The coils of line 
were wound about his body, arms, and legs, and the whale 
was running. He fought desperately to get clear of the 
line, and thought he was clear, when a bight of the line 
tightened about his ankle. He was jerked under water 
when the line came taut, but managed to get hold of the 
line, pull himself forward, and cut. Captain Coffin was a 
powerful man, never lost his head, and was resourceful; 
but most whalemen who survive — and many who do not 
— are that. He was helped into the cabin, and spent most 
of the next three weeks with his bandaged ankle up on the 
lounge there, fretting because he could not return to his 

Mr. Brown had made another trip, and brought back 
the stove boat and its crew. That was a job for Peter. 
Mr. Baker had gone off dead to windward. It was almost 
hopeless to stand after him in the Clearchus, but we did 
so, making short tacks so that he might not lose us. He 

^w / 

\ * 





came bade about dark, rather crestfallen, without his 
whale. After running ten or twelve miles, the whale had 
sounded out all his line. He waited more than an hour for 
the whale to come up, in the hope that he could, at least, 
get hold of the line again; but nothing had been seen of 
the whale. He must have run for miles under water. 


We reached the Keelings late in April, having taken no 
whales since leaving Desolation. Captain Nelson found that 
the Bartholomew Gosnold had left a few hours before we 
arrived. This was unfortunate. I have no doubt that the 
fact made the captain regret more than ever that he had 
stopped to lower for the blind whale. He had had a boat 
stove, Captain Coffin had been laid up, he had missed the 
Gosnold, and he did not get the whale. Still, probably he 
would do the same thing again under the same circum- 
stances, and probably he ought to. I was especially sorry 
that we had missed the Gosnold, for she was going directly 
home and would have taken letters. It was some months 
since I had written home, and I had a large instalment 
of my journal ready to send; but I could send it from 

For the few days that we were at the Keelings we had 
exceptionally good weather, and we visited North Keeling 
Island, which is not often possible. The island is unin- 
habited except by birds and some other things, among 
which is a monstrous land crab which climbs trees and 
feeds on coconuts. Between the coconut palms and iron- 
wood trees there is a dense forest covering the island, 
which is only about a mile long. We saw literally myriads 
of frigate-birds, boobies, terns, and other sea-birds, all of 
which nest there. I was especially interested in the frigate- 
birds and their nests. The birds would rise from their nests 
and sail in spirals to great heights, apparently very angry, 
inflating the red pouches on their necks as they rose. I was 
for seeing whether I could not find a few good eggs for 
my collection, but Peter dissuaded me. He thought that the 
birds would not take it well. As for my collection of eggs, 


I had not begun it yet, but I thought that frigate-birds' 
eggs would be a good thing to begin with. 

I still think so, and regret my failure to get an egg or 
two. No doubt, if I had got them, they would now be 
adorning the loft of my barn, where various collections of 
my son's ornament the walls, in various stages of des- 
iccation or decay. There are a collection of eggs, some of 
them rare; a collection of seaweeds and mosses, dried and 
mounted on cards, and lettered very beautifully; shells of 
crabs, likewise mounted on cards, among which are two or 
three shells of young horseshoe crabs about an inch or two 
long, very delicate and perfect ; a collection of wild-flowers, 
dried, pressed, and mounted; a collection of lichens; and 
collections of various other kinds, which I forget at this 
moment. These collections represent different phases in 
my son's development which he very promptly forgot 
as soon as they were past, but each of which was absorbing 
while it lasted. I do not look at them often, but I would 
not have them touched, and neither would Ann McKim. 

I should have been glad to stay longer, but the voyage 
was neither for my health, which was disgustingly rugged, 
nor for my pleasure, and Captain Nelson sailed for Sunda 
Strait without consulting me. It is not a long stretch from 
the Keelings to the Strait, but we were delayed and 
turned aside by whales, of which we saved two, both of 
which lay fin out within an hour from lowering. They were 
fairly large, and made more than one hundred and fifty 
barrels, and raised our stock of sperm oil on board to 
about twelve hundred barrels. 

We finished our trying-out late one afternoon, and kept 
off for Sunda Strait, making a beginning at our scrubbing 
of the ship. We were directly in the track of sailing vessels 
bound through the Strait to China and Japan, and very 
nearly in the track of steamers both ways. Sunda Strait is 
the narrow throat of the highway between the Indian 
Ocean and all the seas and ports to the east, and it is al- 
most busy enough to need a traffic policeman. 


That night was a very dark night; pitch-black, moonless 
and clouded over, so that there was not even the little 
light from the stars. The blackness of the night seemed 
thick, oppressive. I could not catch even a gleam from the 
water, and it is very rarely the case that you cannot see 
the water now and then, even on a dark night. It seems 
much lighter at sea than it does on shore. Everybody aft 
had turned in, and there was no light showing from the 
stern ports, for I looked over the stern to see. I could 
not bring myself to turn in, for I was half afraid, to tell 
the whole truth, although I do not know what I was afraid 
of. The thick blackness of the night seemed ominous. 

I stood at the stern, looking out over the wake — which 
glowed dully with swirling phosphorescence — for a long 
time. Then I wandered forward, and stood under the fore 
rigging, on the weather side. The wind was fresh, and I 
heard the noise the Clearchus made going through the 
water, with an occasional muffled cluck of a block, the 
regular slatting of some slack rope against a sail, or per- 
haps the reef points. I looked along the deck, or where 
the deck ought to be, and I could see nothing. I felt as I 
used to feel on the infrequent occasions when my mother 
had shut me in a closet, except that there was no parox- 
ysm of temper to make me forget the darkness, and that 
there was a feeling of utter loneliness, as though I were 
perched on nothing, all alone in the midst of a sea of 
blackness. I became almost afraid to move my feet for 
fear that there would be nothing under them. When Peter 
and the Prince spoke to me gently, at my shoulder, I very 
nearly cried out. 

If I had not heard the Prince I should not have known 
he was there. I could see no sign of him. Peter's face was 
but a dim blur, and nothing of his body was visible. Your 
true whaleman does not go about his business clad in a 
natty white duck suit, like a navy sailorman, and with 
a teacup of a white hat perched upon his head; but he 


wears old civilian clothes, which look — by daylight — 
as though they had been boiled in oil, and then, while still 
wet with it, had been dragged through all the dust of the 
wharves. Such clothes make him practically invisible on 
an ordinarily dark night. 

In a very low voice that was scarcely more than a 
whisper, Peter remarked that it was a black night. I agreed 
with him enthusiastically, and the Prince grunted his as- 
sent. We stood there by the fore rigging for some time in 
silence. None of us seemed to feel like talking, or to know 
what to say. 

" You can hardly see the fo'c's'le lamp," Peter observed 
at last. " It looks as if it was in a thick cloud of smoke. 
It won't burn bright, whatever we do to it, and there 's 
some that say there 's a sort of halo around the flame, 
like the halos they put around the heads of their saints — 
like a sort of sun-dog. It may be so, though I did n't see 
it. Something 's going to happen, I 'm thinking. I never 
saw a darker night." 

I tried to reply lightly, but I could not, and did not 
reply at all. The Prince said nothing, and in a few minutes 
they had faded away into the darkness. I went back to the 
stern, and stood there for a long time, peering out, but see- 
ing nothing. The silent man at the wheel was some com- 
fort, and once in a while Mr. Tilton, who had that 
watch, looked in. There was the faint bubbling of the 
wake, and the same noises as before, but largely cut off 
by the roof of the house. I had glanced at the compass, 
which was swung just inside the cabin skylight instead of 
in a binnacle, and had seen that we were heading due 
north. That was not sailing very close, but the Clearchus 
really made more if she was not held too close to the wind. 
I was getting drowsy in spite of my uneasiness, and was 
just making up my mind to turn in. In fact I had taken 
my elbows from the taffrail, on which I had been leaning, 
and raised my eyes. 


Suddenly, without my being conscious of it, there broke 
from my throat a yell that would have waked the dead; 
and there loomed out of the blackness, just at our stern, 
the flying jibboom of a ship. It was high over my head, 
and I could just dimly make out jibs rising from it which 
seemed to reach to the heavens. I had no time to think, 
but I know I had the impression that our stern was 
sure to be cut off, and I yelled again. If I had taken time 
to think I should have realized that that other ship was 
bound for the Strait, as we were, but sailing a couple of 
points closer; and that, even if she was going three knots 
to our one, our chances of escape were good. Hindsight 
is easy; and when I saw the end of the spritsail yard and 
some stays within reach of my hand I grabbed them — > 
probably the flying- jib guys — and hauled myself up and 
landed in her nettings. I was still there when the two 
vessels came together. The yards of the ship I was on were 
braced well around, or the damage would have been 
greater. As it was, the Clearchus had her spanker carried 
away, and a spare boat brushed off the roof of her after 
house, and she was given a gentle push on her course. 
Then she vanished quickly into the night. 

The strange ship had apparently put her helm down 
as soon as it was known that there was danger of a col- 
lision, but was just beginning to feel it. A big ship — this 
ship turned out to be about twice the size of the Clearchus 
— a big ship like that does not mind her helm instantly, 
and she had come up perhaps half a point or less when the 
moment had passed, and the helm was put up again, 
bringing her back to her course. I do not believe she would 
have come up much more in any case, for a moment later 
showed me that she had everything set, even to studding- 
sails on the weather side; and having all those sails taken 
suddenly aback in the breeze that was blowing might have 
resulted in greater damage — to her, at least — than an 
actual collision. 


I say tbat a moment later I saw that she had everything 
set. I was just getting to my feet to feel my way aft, when 
there was a blinding glare of lightning which illuminated 
the sea for miles around. It was brighter than day; and 
the picture of the Clearchus, pegging along on our lee 
quarter, as though nothing had happened, and of the cloud 
of sail carried by the ship which carried me, was etched 
upon my mind with a precision and permanence which 
permitted examination at my leisure. I found that the 
Clearchus was unhurt; men at work taking in her spanker, 
and brailing it, the gaff broken. A spare boat gone, and 
some splintered woodwork on the starboard corner of the 
after house were the only evidences. 

No burst of rain followed that single flash of lightning, 
but a crash of thunder, and the giants seemed to be bowl- 
ing over my head. Then, after a little, threads of lightning 
began to chase each other over the sky, and soon the sky 
was covered with an interlacing network, the lines moving 
incessantly, accompanied by a continuous crackling, like 
the cracklings in a gigantic frying-pan. The wind had 
dropped almost instantly, and we lay there, rolling gently 
in the swell, and flapping that enormous spread of canvas 
in a flat calm. 

It was light enough to see easily where I was going, and 
I made my way inboard, where I was met by the lookout. 
He sent me aft to see the officer of the watch, who ques- 
tioned me briefly. I wanted him to send me aboard the 
Clearchus at once, but he refused, saying that the breeze 
might start up again at any moment, and that, with all 
that spread of sail, they would inevitably leave their boat 
behind; and that he would not call all hands to reduce 
sail for anybody. He said that I had come on his ship of 
my own accord, and if I did not like it I could leave. 
He would not keep me from going; or a boat could be 
sent for me from my own ship without much trouble. That 
was true. I wondered why they did not send for me, for I 


thought that the man at the wheel had seen me go; hut 
I found out afterward that the man at the wheel had been 
so completely taken up with other things that he had not 
noticed my departure, and they had not yet found that I 
was missing. 

While I stood talking with the officer the breeze began 
to come in again from the same quarter as before. The 
sails filled gradually, and the ship heeled a little, and be- 
gan to forge ahead. He would not bother with me any 
longer, and sent me to the steerage, where there was a 
spare bunk. By the time I had turned in the breeze had 
become strong again, the lightning had withdrawn below 
the eastern horizon, the clouds were breaking, and the ship 
was doing a good fourteen knots and something to spare. 

The ship was the Virginia of London, Marshall, master, 
last from Mauritius, bound for Hongkong and Canton. 
I saw Marshall, master, in the morning. Captain Marshall 
was a man between thirty-five and forty, clean-shaven 
when that was less the fashion than it is now; and a man 
who would take the trouble to shave himself every morn- 
ing, at sea, would take a great deal more trouble about 
more important matters. He was a well-set man of above 
the medium height, with brown hair just beginning to turn 
gray. I noticed him particularly because he looked enough 
like Smith to be his brother, except that his eyes were not 
of that opaque china-blue, but a gray that was alive, and 
hinted at kindness beneath his crust of silence and stern- 
ness. I wondered whether, by any strange chance, he was 
Smith's brother, and whether he would care to know that 
we had left his brother sinking into the ooze off Amster- 

I did not tell him. He was not a man who invited con- 
fidences, but a wonderful master of a ship, if I was any 
judge. He seemed to know all about me, and about the 
Clearchus, but that, I suppose, was only inference and 
good guessing. He told me that I might consider myself a 


passenger on his ship for two or three days, as he had a 
full crew; and he told me very particularly what a pas- 
senger might do and what he might not. He would land me 
at Anjer or at Batavia, as I preferred; and he would see 
my captain, if the Clearchus arrived before he left, and 
pay for any damage she had suffered. If he did not see 
Captain Nelson, I was to tell him that the owners of the 
Virginia would be happy to pay for his repairs if he would 
send them a bill. Then I was dismissed courteously. I had 
not said a word during the interview. • 

I spent the whole of that day on deck, taking a very 
simple but an exquisite pleasure in just watching the ship 
sail. She did it so beautifully! There was a smashing 
breeze from the southeast, but the Virginia had everything 
set that she could stand up under, — a cloud of white can- 1 
vas reaching up and up, apparently without end; she was 
heeled to her channels, and she sailed. It was a revelation 
to me; the speed, the discipline, which was like that on a 
war vessel, the continuous attention to little things like 
trimming in a sheet six inches, the haul on bowlines, until 
each sail drew without a tremor, pulling and hauling or 
slacking off a brace by inches, to make the angle exactly 
what the officer of the deck thought it should be. In the 
minute attention given to details it was like a continuous 
yacht race of to-day, but of ten or twelve thousand miles 
instead of thirty. The men were alive every minute of the 
time; they jumped at an order, and were satisfied and 
willing and proud of their ship. Anybody could see that, 
but who would not be ? I had no doubt that there had been 
many and many a heartbreaking day of setting up and tar- 
ring down rigging, slushing masts, reeving ropes, and 
bending sails, — there must have been, on a ship driven 
as the Virginia was driven, — but I saw none of it that 
day. She was almost into port, and it was all done until 
the next time. The discipline was strict, but sailormen do 
not object to that. I think that, in their hearts, they like it. 


They had a man of iron for master, but they had good 
quarters, good food, and good treatment. There would be 
no desertions at the next port. And the officers were all 
proud of the ship and put their best into her. As for Mar- 
shall, master, he loved the ship ; loved her so well that he 
could not bear to see her not looking her best and doing 
her best. 

Until late that afternoon I hung over the weather rail, 
in the space to which passengers were limited, to use Cap- 
tain Marshall's words, in a condition of unalloyed bliss. 
I revelled in the breeze, in the sight of the marching, 
sunny sea, in the way the ship cut cleanly through the seas, 
keeping her bows wet with spray, in the crisp commands 
and the way the men responded to them, in the noises of 
a ship and the sound of the water, and in the silence. Now 
and then I lifted my eyes to the towering pyramid of can- 
vas, and I could not help echoing the thought of the sailor 
quoted by Dana : " How quietly they do their work ! " 

Captain Marshall was on deck nearly all day, pacing 
the deck by the weather rail, but I did not hear him give 
an order. He scarcely spoke. I think that he was in much 
the same condition as I. He watched the sea and the sky 
and the sails, and occasionally he smiled as if he was half 
ashamed of doing so, but could not help it. On one of 
these occasions I spoke to him impulsively. 

" Captain Marshall," I said, " I must thank you for 
giving me this day. It has been as happy a day as I ever 

He was puzzled at this outburst, and he hardened. 
"Just what," he began coldly, " do you — " 

" The ship," I interrupted ; " she sails so beautifully ! I 
never expected to have such an experience — never knew 
there was such to be had." 

He smiled again at that. " Oh, yes," he said, " the ship. 
She 's a sweet sailer — a sweet sailer." He turned on his 
heel, still murmuring " sweet sailer." 


I looked out over the water again, and saw Java Head 

just rising above the horizon. 

Late that night we came to anchor before Anjer, the 
fourth bay on the right as you go through the Strait from 
the Indian Ocean. The captain went ashore in the morning, 
but I did not go with him. I would go on to Batavia. It was 
just around the corner. 


At Batavia I stayed on board of the Virginia as long as 
I could. I had not a cent of money in my pockets, and I 
did not like to ask help of any kind, even of the American 
consul. The Virginia had some freight to be unloaded, and 
I watched the men breaking out that part of the cargo 
while Captain Marshall went ashore. The captain appar- 
ently did not see me that morning, which I suppose was 
his way of being indulgent. There was a good deal of 
freight to be taken off, and when it was out of the way 
there was as much more to be taken in and stowed: great 
quantities of sugar and coffee and spices for England, 
and some things for Hongkong and Canton, I could not tell 
what. I wondered idly why they took aboard the cargo for 
England on the way east, but I never found out. The 
officers of the Virginia were not the kind of men one asked 
idle questions. 

The cargo was not all stowed before noon of the next 
day, and there was no sign of the Clearchus. I was getting 
very uneasy, and had actually made a move to speak to the 
captain, when he turned to me. 

" Here 's your ship," he said. 

I looked down the bay, and saw her upper masts and 
dirty, slovenly looking sails, appearing indistinctly above 
the islands. It was) a great contrast to the white canvas and 
shining spars of the Virginia, and I felt a strange mix- 
ture of relief and disappointment. 

We had to wait for the Clearchus, for the wind was 
light, and I thought that she never would get in. Captain 
Marshall did not wait for her to put her anchor over, but 
was pulled out and met her, leaving the Virginia with her 
anchor hove short, her sails loosed and hanging in the 


clewlines, and the crew standing by to make sail. He 
went over the side of the Clearchus much more easily 
and gracefully than I did, and immediately went below 
with Captain Nelson. To my astonishment, I was hailed as 
one raised from the dead. It seems that nobody had seen 
me at the moment of my departure, and I had not been 
missed until some hours after the collision. Then the man 
who had been at the wheel recalled my yells, and they con- 
cluded that I had been knocked overboard. Of course it 
was then too late to look for me, as nobody could swim for 
four or five hours at the rate the Clearchus was going, 
small as that rate was. I laughed when I heard this ex- 
planation, but I made no comment. If they did not know, 
or had forgotten, that I could not swim at all, I would 
not bring up a painful subject. Peter and the Prince said 
nothing, but I was afraid that Peter's smile would crack 
his leather cheeks. 

I was relieved from this embarrassing situation by the 
return to the deck of Captain Marshall, accompanied by 
Captain Nelson. Both captains looked pleased, especially 
Captain Nelson. They stopped for a moment to glance at 
the damage done, which was trifling, except for the loss 
of the boat. As this thought crossed my mind I looked up 
at the roof of the after house. There was no boat missing. 
They must have picked it up. I asked Peter, and he 
nodded, saying that it was unhurt. At that moment Peter 
and the Prince were called to their duty, and our anchor 
was let go. I sidled aft, to be within plain sight of Cap- 
tain Marshall when he left. That was all I could do. He 
took no notice of me, but disappeared over the side. I was 
disappointed, and felt a sinking of the heart; but I had 
no reason to expect anything better. To him I was but 
one of the crew of the Clearchus, and a whaleman. Smart 
masters of smart ships have a profound contempt for 
whalemen as a class, because of their general slackness, 
I suppose, although those of them who really know feel 


an equally profound respect for their venturesome spirit. 
Captain Marshall was the master of the smartest ship I 
have ever come across, and the condition of his vessel re- 
flected the character of the master, as it always does. The 
impression I got of Captain Marshall, and the one I al- 
ways retained, was that of a kind man — if you once got 
under his stiff crust of reserve and custom. I think that, at 
heart, he was sentimental, and was afraid that the crust 
might break and show his real nature. So he never forgot, 
but took every opportunity to harden and stiffen the crust ; 
and he lavished a wealth of sentiment on his ship in secret. 

I found Captain Coffin standing just forward of the 
house, nursing his bandaged ankle and gazing at the Vir- 
ginia. I took my stand beside him, and we watched while 
the Virginia got her anchor up smartly, and got under 
way smartly, without the smallest mistake or mishap. Her 
canvas fell into place swiftly and with the precision of a 
machine, and she was soon well on her way to sea under 
a veritable cloud of snowy canvas, and going like a race- 
horse. There was no sound from Captain Coffin until the 
Virginia was almost out of sight. Then he heaved a long 
sigh, and turned to me, almost with tears in his eyes. 

" Well, Tim," he said, with a smile, " she 's a great 
vessel — a great ship, and as sweet a sailer as I ever saw." 

I grinned in return, from ear to ear. "That 's what 
Captain Marshall says, sir, and he 's just right. I spent 
one whole day just watching her sail." 

" I 'd give a leg," he said, " to command a vessel like 
that. But there 's the Annie Battles sailing these seas some- 
where. She 's almost as good, and she 's mine. Help me 
below, Tim." 

So I lent him my shoulder until he was deposited oL 
the cabin sofa. A glance showed me the same blue-white 
pitcher on the cabin table, with three empty glasses, and 
three empty chairs. The pitcher was empty too, and cold, 
but it had been neither empty nor cold. I knew. 


At Batavia we left poor Mr. Snow in hospital, under 
the charge of the American consul. Although we were sorry 
for him, there was no one in the ship who was not glad to 
have him out of it. Soon after we left, a homeward-bound 
whaler called whose master was willing to take him. He 
was already better, and recovered pretty well before they 
reached New Bedford, but he never went to sea again. I 
remember that I saw him, more than ten years later. I 
said a few words to him, but found that he did not know 
me, and I had no wish to recall myself to him. He was 
night watchman for one or two of the banks then on 
Water Street, and was a little " queer," but not queer 
enough to prevent his being a good enough night watch- 

We were in Batavia about a week, although I could see 
no reason for our staying more than a couple of days. The 
two men that we had picked up at Amsterdam Island with 
Captain Coffin left us there, and none were shipped in their 
places, as the old man did not like the looks of any of the 
candidates. This rejoiced me in particular, for I was prac- 
tically put back in my boat. It was no cause of rejoicing 
to the sailmaker, however, for it put him back in his boat 
too; but Captain Nelson, I believe, expected to pick up a 
man or two later on. We sailed at last, expecting to look 
around the Java Sea a bit, and if there were no whales 
there, which Captain Nelson hardly expected, we would 
stand up the China Sea, past the Philippines, to the Japan 
grounds. The captain hoped to do well on the Japan 

In Java Sea we did better than was expected. We saw 
several small schools, got fast four times, and saved two 
whales, one of them a big bull. This bull was the cause 
of an adventure which might have resulted seriously for 
me. We had got fast to him, and he had run for a while. 
Then he sounded. He had taken out quite a little line, 
when the strain on the line eased, although the line did 


not slack entirely. That was an indication that he had 
doubled on his course under water, and Mr. Brown kept 
a sharp lookout for him over the bow, for he might be com- 
ing to attack the boat. I could not help giving an occasional 
glance over the side. I confess that I was nervous. Mr. 
Brown did not see me, having his back toward me, but the 
Prince did, and held up his hand in warning, although he 
said nothing. That was not enough to stop me, and I 
glanced over again. One glance was enough. There was the 
whale coming up like a rocket, belly up and jaws open. 
I dropped my oar, and reached past Kane for the boat 
spade. As I reached, Mr. Brown gave a yell to stern all. 
Of course I could not, having no hold on my oar, but it 
was too late, anyway. 

At that instant the lower jaw shot into the air past my 
head. I had never thought the teeth of a sperm whale 
looked very dangerous until I saw those teeth, looking 
like a row of gravestones, flashing by my eyes to twice 
my height. I did not stop to philosophize on the matter of 
whales' teeth, however, but I jammed the boat spade down 
instantly, with all my strength and all my weight behind 
it. By pure good luck I hit the jaw muscles on one side, 
and cut them nearly through. Probably I saved the life of 
the tub-oarsman, who would have been caught between the 
jaws; or quite possibly I saved my own life, for I might 
have been the one to be caught by those jaws. It seemed, 
at the time, to be an opening for two young men. 

The jaws closed partially, but there was no strength in 
the bite, and, although the planks on one side were stove 
in, between me and the tub oar, the boat was not bitten 
in two, which would have happened if the whale had had 
the full use of his jaw muscles. He made no further at- 
tack, but sank again into the sea, leaving us with the water 
pouring in through the broken planks. In a few minutes we 
were completely waterlogged, and the men sat in their 
places with the water up to their waists, and the seas 


breaking into the boat. Mr. Tilton pulled up and took our 
line, and killed the whale. All the fight seemed to have 
been taken out of him. He cut in over eighty-five barrels. 

By the time we had that whale and our other one — a 
thirty-barrel cow, which made no fight — we were about 
off Macassar, and we held northward through the Strait 
of Macassar instead of going back and through the China 
Sea. We had head winds until we had got to the east of 
the Philippines, but we were in no hurry, and the head 
winds did not bother us. It was here that we saw a strange 
and interesting sight. 

We had raised a small school of whales and had lowered 
four boats. The whales proved to be cows, most of them 
with calves accompanying them closely. I knew too little 
about whales then — I know no more now — to be able to 
tell the age of a whale calf by its appearance ; these calves 
were not newly born, but yet they were so young that they 
had to come up to blow every three or four minutes. Mr. 
Baker struck a calf, probably thinking by that manoeuvre 
he would find the capture of the mother easier. 

I know that I was rather shocked at his doing so at the 
time. There was nothing sporting about it. It was like 
murdering a baby. But there was nothing sporting about 
whaling — none of the sporting spirit, and my feeling was 
only momentary. It did seem short-sighted, at the least, 
to destroy an animal that could be of no possible use to us, 
and one which might grow up to be of considerable value 
to somebody. There should be some sort of international 
agreement not to kill calves or any cow under forty barrels 
or so. It would be in the interest of the whale fishery as 
an industry, and would very likely result, eventually, in 
making it easier to fill up a ship; like the restrictions on 
the seal fishery, or good game laws on land. Nobody sup- 
poses that the game laws exist from sympathy with the 
game ; but where there is a good buck law, deer are abun- 
dant enough. 


To come back to Mr. Baker; he knew whales very well, 
and ought to have known what would happen. The whole 
school of a dozen or fifteen cows brought to at once, and 
gathered around the wounded calf and Mr. Baker's boat. 
They crowded so closely about the boat that Mr. Baker did 
not dare to use his lance, and had all he could do to keep 
his boat from being stove by the loose cows. The three 
other boats were at some distance when he struck. We 
pulled up as fast as we could, but could do nothing to help 
him. On the way over I heard Mr. Macy call to Mr. Til- 
ton to look. I could see nothing, of course, having my back 
to whatever it was that he was calling attention to, but on 
our arrival on the outskirts of the school I saw what it 

There were a great many more than fifteen whales there, 
and more were arriving every minute. In self-defense, Mr. 
Baker had lanced two of the nearest, and he could have 
reached two or three more from the boat. The whales 
seemed to have lost their wits, but were none the less dan- 
gerous on that account, they were so tightly packed. The 
small school which we had attacked had been, apparently, 
but an offshoot of a much larger school, all cows and calves. 
Their spouts covered the sea for some distance. No doubt 
they seemed more numerous than they were ; but we found 
our boat gradually getting enclosed, and we backed out, 
after lancing two without putting an iron into either. 
So did Mr. Tilton and Mr. Macy, leaving Mr. Baker 
closely surrounded by crazy whales ; probably only gallied 
and not knowing what to do. There was nothing for Mr. 
Baker to do but to do nothing, and he did it. His men took 
in their oars, and there they sat waiting for something to 
turn up, their boat not so very unlike one of the bodies 
that surrounded it. 

Presently Mr. Baker's patience was rewarded. The 
poor little calf which he had struck turned on its side, fin 
out, and the whales scattered very soon, the whole school 
gradually resuming its orderly progress. 


Just before we backed out of the mess, the whales of 
the main school had come so close to our boat that I had 
only to look over the side to see the small calves swim- 
ming close alongside their mothers, almost concealed from 
view. One of the calves I saw must have been born a very- 
little time before, for its flukes were scarcely unfolded. I 
have no means of knowing how long it takes for that proc- 
ess, but the calf could not have been more than a few days 
old. The mother seemed very anxious and solicitous for its 
safety. I saw her turn partly on her side, and put her side 
fin over it, holding it close against her, as you would take a 
small child under your arm. She had it so when we backed 
away, and lost sight of the pair. 

The school left us in such semblance of order that we 
could not have struck again without risking a repetition 
of Mr. Baker's experience; and we had about as many 
whales as we could take care of at one time. Each boat 
had got one or two. They were all small, none over thirty 
barrels, and some much smaller. 

When the trying-out was over we made for the Japan 
grounds as straight as we could with the northeast trades 
directly ahead. Peter was still engaged in repairing the 
boat stove in the Java Sea. It was stove rather badly, 
every plank on the port side from the gunwale nearly to 
the garboard strake having to be replaced, and two broken 
ribs. Although Peter's workmanship left a repaired boat 
almost as good as new — it would be better in some cases, 
but our boats had been made by Beetle, and were good 
boats — in spite of Peter's workmanship, we had a good 
many cripples. If the rate of damage to boats increased, it 
seemed to me that we might find ourselves short. One fight- 
ing whale will sometimes reduce two or three boats to 
matchwood, quite beyond Peter's skill. We were going 
where there was no source of supply, for what whale boats 
were scattered among the islands of the Pacific were 
mostly old boats, patched and painted over to hide the 


patches ; boats that the whalemen, who traded them to the 
natives, had no further use for. Still, I do not remember 
that I worried about it at the time. It is only since I got 
home — since I became middle-aged and timid, I suppose 
whalemen would say — that it has seemed to me short- 

We stood in fairly close to Formosa, and in that neigh- 
borhood we got one whale, a lone bull, which made no fight 
to speak of, although it was not like slaughtering a steer 
at Green's or Pike's. A pot of hot oil from him may have 
saved us; or, at any rate, it may have saved us a nasty 
fight. While we were trying-out, a small junk appeared 
from the direction of Formosa or the Chinese coast beyond. 
Nobody gave it a thought until it was close aboard, when 
it suddenly occurred to Captain Nelson, who happened to 
be on deck, that its actions were suspicious. I saw nothing 
suspicious about it except that it was almost near enough 
to throw a biscuit aboard — if anybody had wanted to 
waste a biscuit. The old junk was going along after the 
manner of junks, with six or seven men loafing on deck. 
We were hove to, and a great volume of black smoke was 
pouring from our try-works. As far as working the ship 
was concerned, we were helpless. If they wanted to board 
us, they could do it a dozen times over before we could 
get the Clearchus going. 

Captain Nelson watched the junk for a minute, then he 
spoke to Mr. Baker, who went at once among the men. 
The men left their work, and armed themselves with 
lances, harpoons, spades, and boarding-knives, but did not 
range themselves along the rail, for the captain was not 
sure, and he did not want to make himself a laughing-stock 
among other captains. I was watching the men, feeling 
little pricklings all over and my hair rising. Captain 
Nelson turned to me. 

" What 'you grinning about, Tim ? " I had not been 
aware that I was grinning, but I was, from ear to ear. 
" Get the guns and revolvers from the cabin." 


" All of them, sir? " I asked, my voice shaking with ex- 

" All you can carry." 

I jumped for the cabin stairs, and clanked up again, 
making a noise like an arsenal. The captain could not help 
laughing to see me. I had the Spencers, of course, three of 
the heavy bomb guns, two revolvers, and some ammunition. 
I distributed my arsenal among the officers. 

" Here she comes," said Mr. Baker — with satisfaction, 
I thought. 

The junk had gone by us, until she was almost directly 
to windward, had turned, and was coming down before the 
wind, her men, who had been hidden below, swarming out 
upon deck. They were armed mostly with long knives. 

I looked at our own men. They were taking their places 
at the rail according to their nature; some slowly, some 
quickly. I saw Peter go with business-like rapidity, and 
take his place by the fore rigging. He had a boarding- 
knife. The Prince, with a harpoon in his hand, and two 
more leaning against the rail at his side, leaped upon the 
rail beside Peter. I ran to Peter's other side, seizing a 
boarding-knife as I ran, and there we were, the three of us 
together, the Prince, Peter, and I. Peter took it all quietly, 
as if it were a regular part of his duty to meet a junk-load 
of Chinese pirates; I was a little afraid, I think, but at 
the same time I was pleased, and I was wildly excited; 
and the Prince stood on the rail, looking down with the 
utmost contempt upon the Chinese. He was stripped to the 
waist — most of our men were half-stripped — and looked 
like an ebony statue, the gold hoops in his ears shining 
out against his shining black skin. 

The junk was very near now, and one of their men 
crawled up with a great bronze hook on the end of a cable. 
He was going to try to hook fast to us, but he never did 
make the trial. He had to rise, for a moment, and expose 
himself. That moment was enough for the Prince, who 


was directly opposite him, and only a few feet away. The 
Prince raised his harpoon, and darted quickly. The sharp 
weapon struck the man full in the chest, went clean 
through him as if his body had been made of paper, and 
the barbs stuck a good three inches behind his back. 

The Prince smiled at that. " Ha! " he cried. " You want 
come aboard ? Come on, then," 

He jerked the body over the rail of the junk, and it fell 
with a thud against our side. Then, still standing erect, he 
hauled it over our rail, and dumped it on the deck at my 
very feet. It turned me sick and faint for an instant. 

I was roused out of my faintness by a shout from Kane, 
who had been standing not far from me. He threw down 
his spade, ran to the try-works, seized one of the long- 
handled copper dippers, and dipped it into one of the 
kettles of oil. The oil was unusually hot, and the drops 
that fell from the dipper, as he ran back with it, smoked 
fiercely, and threatened to start fires. 

" Look out, boys ! " he shouted, swinging his dipper of 
hot oil. " I '11 give them a drink." 

We drew away from the swing of the dipper. With a 
last swing at the full length of the long handle he let them 
have it. 

" Have a doughnut," he roared, " you dhirty chinks ! " 

He had thrown with all his strength, and with consider- 
able skill, so that the contents of the dipper were dashed 
upon a good many of the men, and scattered into drops. 
The drops fell upon the bare bodies like a rain of fire, and 
every drop sizzled where it struck, literally frying the 
Chinese in spots. There was a yell from our men at Kane's 
success, and frenzied yells of pain came from the junk. 
Kane had turned at once, and ran back to fill his dipper 
again. Many men followed him, to grab whatever they 
could lay hands upon which would hold oil. 

I was among the first to turn and run, thrusting my 
boarding-knife into Peter's hands, and bidding him hold it. 


The decks, of course, were almost swimming in oil and 
greasy dirt, as we had been in the middle of trying-out. As 
I ran I heard a shout from Peter to duck. At the same 
instant I fell flat upon my face on the deck, and a long 
knife whistled over my head, striking against the bricks of 
the try-works. It was a piece of good luck, with no effort 
of mine contributing. I had merely stepped in a puddle of 
oil, and my foot had slipped. 

By the time I had got to my feet again, there was noth- 
ing left to dip the oil with, and I went back to my post be- 
side Peter. Kane had thrown a second dipperful of oil, with 
as great success as the first, and there was now a continu- 
ous shower of hot oil crossing the widening gulf between 
the vessels. The junk had given up the attempt to board 
us, and was only anxious to get away, her men pushing 
with long poles, while exposing their bodies as little as 
possible. The junk slowly dropped astern, helped by much 
pushing and some drifting. As she had come down upon us 
from the windward, she could not get off directly; but 
the Clearchus was forging ahead a little. 

Hot oil was showered upon the junk while she was 
within range of the men, but the officers, their guns held 
ready, withheld their fire, and at last she cleared us. As 
she cleared our stern, and her sails filled and she stood 
to leeward, her men were still shouting in agony, some of 
the worst burned clawing at their bodies. Presently a man 
jumped overboard. He sank from sight, and I did not see 
him come up again. Then another jumped,, and another; 
and then two together. All four came up again, but the junk 
made no attempt to pick them up, and the men made no 
attempt to swim, so far as I could see. They just lay there, 
bobbing on the surface or under it, now in plain sight, no\C 
out of sight, until they disappeared. 

We had made no move to pick them up, which worried 
me somewhat, and finally I spoke to Mr. Baker, who passed 
near. Two of the Chinese were still afloat. 


" Are n't we going to pick up those men, Mr. Baker? " 

" What men? " he asked. " Any of our men overboard? 
Don't seem so. If any of those yellow pirates are over- 
board, the junk can pick 'em up if she wants to. What we 
do is the Cap'n's business, not yours or mine, Tim." 

I looked at Captain Nelson. He was standing under the 
after house, gazing forward absently, as if nothing had 
happened. He did not see any men overboard, nor did 
Mr. Baker, nor any other of the officers. At that moment 
Captain Nelson called me, and I went to him. 

" Take the guns below," he said. 

When I came up there was nothing to be seen except a 
junk, a quarter of a mile to leeward, going before the wind. 


We reached the Japan grounds in May of 1874, and 
cruised thereabouts until August. Then we stood to the 
southward, loafing past the Volcano Islands, the Ladrones, 
Carolines, Solomon and Fiji Islands, always on the look- 
out for whales, and taking a number of them. We were on 
the New Zealand grounds early in November. We had 
only average success on the Japan grounds and our 
cruise to the southward; pulled in many a fruitless 
chase, and most of the whales we did get made no fight 
worth mentioning, for which the men were thankful. 
Two of the whales, however, did seem to think their 
lives worth fighting for, and one of the two fights was 
successful from the whale's point of view. 

The first of these fights occurred about the middle of the 
northern summer. We were off the coast of Japan a hun- 
dred miles or so, and it was blowing hard from the south- 
west, when we raised this lone spout to windward. I was 
standing by the weather fore rigging, having escaped work 
in the cabin — the officers were rather lenient as to my 
duties in the cabin in view of my work in the boat, but I 
tried not to be conspicuous when I was loafing — I stood 
by the fore rigging, with arms folded upon the rail. So far 
as I can recollect, I was thinking of nothing at all, but 
letting the wind blow on my face, and enjoying myself. 
Suddenly there came a spout about a mile off, and just 
before my eyes, a perfect plume. I had not seen the 
whale rise, and even after the spout I saw nothing of his 
body. The cry came down from the masthead immediately, 
and I moved, expecting that my boat might be called upon. 

The call did not come, however. We were to leeward of 
the whale, and the ship was manoeuvred for half an hour, 


trying to get to windward of him, and waiting for him to 
sound. We did not succeed in getting a windward berth, 
for he was moving slowly to windward, and kept his ad- 
vantage. He did go down when he got good and ready, his 
flukes going into the air until he seemed to be standing on 
his head, half submerged, and he disappeared, apparently 
going straight down. 

Mr. Brown and Mr. Tilton then lowered, but they did 
not hurry about it, for the whale had gone down less than 
a mile from the ship, and it was likely that he would stay 
down for an hour. We pulled to the spot we had chosen 
as the most likely, and waited, occasionally pulling a few 
strokes to hold our position. Mr. Tilton was a quarter of 
a mile away. While we waited, the ship worked up past 
us, and got about a quarter of a mile directly to windward 
of us. Mr. Tilton guessed nearer than Mr. Brown. The 
whale rose beyond Mr. Tilton's boat, coming up on a half- 
breach. We heard the tremendous splash of it, and saw Mr. 
Tilton's men begin to pull; then we began to pull, and I 
saw no more of what was going on except the oars and the 
backs of the men directly before my eyes, and Mr. Brown's 
unexpressive face, as he stood at the steering oar. 

We chased that whale for nearly two hours before Aze- 
vedo had a chance to strike. Then I saw Mr. Brown's face 
light up. 

" White water! " he said. " He 's fast." 

I, for one, was glad. It is no play to pull a whaleboat 
into the teeth of such a sea and wind as there was then. 

" She spouts thin blood," he added, a moment later. 
" Sounded." 

We took it easy after that, and soon came up with Mr. 
Tilton. The whale had sounded out all his line before we 
got there, and the ship was hull down to leeward, but com- 
ing as fast as she could. 

There was nothing to do but to wait. The whale must 
have gone down at a terrific rate, and he had gone straight 


down, for he came up in fifteen or twenty minutes, and a 
short distance ahead of us. We pulled frantically. Just as 
I saw the huge body beginning to show at the corner of 
my eye, half awash, the Prince darted with all his strength, 
both irons, with great rapidity. At the same moment Mr. 
Brown hove mightily upon the steering oar, to lay the boat 
around, crying out to the Prince to take the lance to him. 
The boat responded, and for a brief interval we ran with 
the whale, the starboard oars against the gunwale, and I 
trying my best to get in the slack of the line before we be- 
gan to fall astern, while Kane held my oar for me. The 
Prince had seized a lance almost before Mr. Brown had got 
the words out of his mouth, and had plunged it twice into 
the whale. Mr. Brown had given auother twist to the steer- 
ing oar, and we sheered off just as the flukes struck the 
water with a noise like a big gun and the effect of a cat- 
aract. I had let go the line and grabbed my oar again, 
and we just did get out of the way as the whale sounded, 
with a side cut of flukes. 

He did not go deep enough to take out all our line, 
although he came near it ; but we held him there, with the 
bow of the boat pulled down within a foot of the water, 
the stern raised a little, and every other sea breaking into 
the boat, which kept Kane and me bailing. Mr. Tilton came 
jup, and he and Mr. Brown thought the whale done for; 
virtually dead. The whale did not rise, and at last Mr. 
Tilton pulled for the ship, which was coming up pretty 
fast, to get a new line. 

Still we waited. The whale did not move. Mr. Tilton 
had boarded the ship, got his line, and shoved off again. 
We began to wonder if it was a dead whale that we had at 
the end of that line, and we all relaxed. The whale had 
been down an hour, and Mr. Tilton was not halfway to us, 
when the bow was suddenly released, and the stern fell 
back gently, with a little splash. The strain on the line had 
eased, and he was coming up. How fast he was coming, and 

308 SHE BLOWS 1 

where he would rise were questions of some interest, but 
no more than that. He was a dead whale, or as good as 

I was aroused to something more than interest by the 
rasp of the whale's teeth against the boat, and his jaw shot 
into the air, it seemed to me for fifty feet. As it passed 
me, I saw the tip of the jaw was curled around into a 
tight spiral. That spiral jaw fascinated me. I could not 
keep my eyes off it, and I did not think of the boat spade. 
There was no time to use it, anyway, even if I had thought 
of it. The whale had the boat fairly in his mouth, between 
the tub and the after oar, and he lost no time in closing, 
biting it cleanly in two. The water rushed in upon me, 
still sitting at my oar. I saw the stern sheets fall square 
with the whale's snout, and Mr. Brown step off upon it and 
dive. Then the water closed over me for an instant; but I 
had not let go my oar, and I came to the surface, sput- 
tering, and hugging the oar close. I do not remember that 
I was frightened, but my whole attention was occupied, 
and I did not know what was happening to the others, 
nor to myself, until I found myself on the bottom of the 
forward half of the boat. I have often wondered just how 
I got there. 

As soon as I was in a condition to observe anything, I 
saw the whale feebly butting the stern of the boat from 
side to side, about fifteen feet away, while Black Man'el 
and Mr. Brown were swimming, Man'el as if he were hurt. 
I saw Mr. Brown help Man'el to the steering oar, which 
still swung there, and then the whale turned to our half 
of the boat. His butts were so feeble — no more than 
gentle pushes — that we had no difficulty in holding on ; 
and, after pushing us about for two or three minutes, he 
very simply rolled over upon his side, fin out. 

Mr. Tilton's crew had seen our predicament, and had 
been pulling hard for us, and Mr. Macy had lowered from 
the ship. Mr. Tilton took us off. Black Man'el was the only 


one hurt. He had an ugly wound in his arm, which the 
whale's teeth had caught and ripped from shoulder to 
elbow, but no bones were broken. I thought the boat was 
hopelessly stove, and of no further use to anybody, except 
for firewood; but Captain Nelson had Mr. Macy pick up 
the pieces, and Peter afterward made another boat of 

The whale made seventy-three barrels. His deformed 
jaw was saved and cleaned, and when the Clearchus got 
home, it was added to the collection of such curiosities. It 
is now in the Whaling Museum. 

The outcome of the other fight was different. The officers 
were at breakfast when we heard the cry from the mast- 
head, and we all ran on deck at once. There were many 
spouts, quite a large school, four or five miles to leeward. 
We ran down for them, getting the boats and their gear 
ready as we went; and at a distance of about a mile we 
lowered four boats, all but Captain Coffin's. His ankle was 
still giving him some trouble, although he used it. I have 
no doubt that that was just the reason it troubled him, for 
he had used it too soon and too much, and he was a great 
heavy man. 

The whales in the school were, most of them, rather 
small cows; but there were two bulls of good size, about 
eighty or ninety barrels, Mr. Brown guessed. The boats 
devoted their attention to them. There was sea enough to 
make it easy to approach the whales, and they were to lee- 
ward, which made it easier still. Mr. Baker and Mr. Macy 
took one, while Mr. Tilton and Mr. Brown took the other. 
Mr. Baker struck his whale first, and Mr. Macy did not 
get fast to him at all, for he immediately ran to wind- 
ward, not very fast, towing Mr. Baker, with Mr. Macy m 
pursuit. I did not see much of it, naturally ; but Mr. Macy 
failed to catch him, and when he had taken Mr. Baker five 
miles to windward of the ship, the whale increased his 
speed, and the line parted. Starbuck had not been able to 


get both irons into him, and the second harpoon, skittering 
along on the top of the water, had cut and frayed the line. 
I could imagine Mr. Baker's flow of language at that acci- 
dent, which is one of the regular risks of the business. 
There was nothing for the two boats to do but to get back 
and try to find the rest of the school, but the school had 
gone. So had we. 

Meanwhile we had struck our whale. We approached 
him from behind. I heard the hoarse bellow of his spout 
getting nearer — he was the loudest spouter I ever heard ; 
we passed his flukes, which worked slowly and lazily, for 
he had not seen us, and the sea made too much noise for 
him to hear us; then we passed his small and his hump. 
Then Mr. Brown nodded to the Prince, and he stood up, 
I suppose, although I saw nothing of him. Then Mr. 
Brown laid the boat around, and we ran spang into the 
whale's body just aft of his fin, and the Prince darted both 
of his irons as Mr. Brown yelled to us, " Stern all ! " The 
whale gave one convulsive leap ahead, his flukes went into 
the air, and came down again, drenching everybody in the 
boat, and he sounded instantly and rapidly. He took out 
line very fast, one tub and half of the other; then he 
turned, and came up again as fast as he went down. The 
line went out very nearly as fast when he was coming up 
as when he went down, but it was held on the loggerhead, 
so that it did not all go out. He breached a short distance 
from the boat, almost his whole length out, falling back 
with a great noise and a splash which filled us half full 
of water. 

Mr. Tilton, meanwhile, had been coming up as fast as 
he could, but he was not yet up with us. The whale oblig- 
ingly lay still, looking about him with a malevolent eye, 
while we heaved in the slack of our line. We had it almost 
in when he caught sight of Mr. Tilton's boat, and made 
for it instantly. Mr. Tilton withdrew a little, and the 
whale changed his mind and sounded again, but not deep. 


The cows of the school had come up, and were hovering 
near, but not near enough for Mr. Tilton to get any of 
them easily, and he had his eye on our bull. The cows 
seemed to have lost their wits. They reminded me of a 
flock of hens crossing the road, and they were as hard to 
get. Our bull came up, and we managed to give Mr. Brown 
one chance with the lance. The thrust had not reached any 
vital spot, and that was all we could do, for the whale 
made up his mind to run. 

He ran to leeward, but he ran under water, and we went 
off on our sleigh-ride, accompanied by the whole school of 
cows. Now and then he came up to spout, but we were 
slowly distancing Mr. Tilton. We made several unavailing 
attempts to pull up and lance, but the only effect was to 
increase the speed of the whale. The ship was hull down, 
and Mr. Tilton soon out of sight. That was early in the 
forenoon. That whale ran until late in the afternoon be- 
fore we were able to pull up. As soon as he felt Mr. 
Brown's lance, the whale sounded, head first, his flukes 
grazing the bottom of the boat as he went, and setting her 
to rolling, but not rolling her over. When he felt her, he 
turned like a flash, and came up again, obliquely at us, 
mouth open and belly up, thrusting and striking with his 
jaw. Most fortunately he did not stove the boat, but rolled 
it over, merely chipping the gunwale with his teeth. 

Then he seemed to think that he had done damage 
enough — in which matter I agreed with him — probably 
settled us; and he lay about fifty feet away, snapping his 
spout hole and snapping his jaws, giving every evidence of 
extreme irritation, but not attacking. We should have been 
helpless if he had, and should have had to take to the 
water, and scatter. He was spouting thin blood, and prob- 
ably in no great distress. I remember that several of the 
men, clinging to the bottom of the overturned boat, coolly 
discussed the color of the spout, and concluded that the 
whale was not seriously hurt, even with two harpoons in 
him. and two thrusts of the lance. 

312 SHE BLOWS!- 

We slowly drifted nearer, until we rose and fell side by 
side, the boat occasionally rubbing against him, but he 
gave us no attention. The cows had disappeared. He lay 
there for over an hour, until we saw Mr. Tilton coming up 
under sail. When the whale caught sight of Mr. Tilton's 
boat, he made for it at once, snapping his jaws. Mr. Til- 
ton then had his sail down, and he backed away, evading 
the rush of the whale, and putting an iron into him. Upon 
feeling the iron, the whale ran again. He had not gone 
far, however, — not above a quarter of a mile, — when the 
line went slack, showing that the iron had drawn. We did 
not see that whale again, nor our two harpoons and tub of 
line. It was long after dark when we got aboard the ship, 
pretty well worn out. 

The experience with that whale rankled in my mind for 
a long time. To think that any whale could do about as he 
pleased with two boats and twelve men, keep the men 
working hard for about ten hours, and then get away with 
harpoons and line,* was almost too much. It exasperated 
me. Even when we were off the Solomon Islands, well on 
our way to New Zealand, I was thinking of it, and com- 
plained of it to Peter, for about the hundredth time. 

He laughed comfortably. " Still thinking o' that, lad ? " 
he asked. " You 'd best forget it. It 's all in the day's 
work. The others have forgot it long ago. Whales 'd be 
poor sort o' critters if they did n't get the better of us 
some o' the time. When you come to think of it, it 's a 
wonder we ever get a whale. Why, they ought to kill us 
all, and they would if they had any brains in that mon- 
strous head of theirs." 


For some time Captain Coffin was excited and restless; 
even more restless than usual, and he was always a rest- 
less and active man. Although he would sometimes sit still 
for long periods, he left you with the impression of activ- 
ity, of tension, as though he was prepared instantly for 
anything. At such times his eyes were very bright, and 
from time to time his head turned alertly. I had no doubt 
that he was hatching possible plans for the recapture of 
the Battles, or, at any rate, that his brain was seething 
with ideas, probably chaotic, which he was trying to re- 
duce to something like order. We were in the seas for 
which he was certain that she was bound, the one refuge 
of every mutinous or piratical crew. 

All of us had been thinking more or less of the Battles. 
My own thoughts, I remember, were about equally divided 
between her and cannibalism. Cannibalism always has a 
peculiar fascination for the minds of young and old, al- 
though we older people pretend that it is the scientific 
side, the history of the race, and the origin of the practice 
that fascinates us. For a boy it is the gruesomeness that 
fascinates, and I made no pretense about it. We had 
passed the Solomons, about which I had heard various 
horrible tales, and were passing the Fijis. We did not even 
see the Fijis, although I stood at the rail for about two 
hours, straining my eyes to the eastward for a possible 
sight of them, while the brisk trade wind blew in my face. 
I got something out of it: dreams of coral islands, and of 
breadfruit and coconuts, and the soothing of that great, 
steady wind upon my spirit. I do not know what Captain 
Coffin got out of it. I saw him standing at the main rig- 
ging, doing the same thing. , 


When we got to the New Zealand grounds we began at 
once the regular routine of cruising, but saw no whales for 
three days. We did see two whalers, one of them from 
home, having sailed a week or two after we did, and come 
around the Horn. This was the Henry, Captain Jeffer- 
son. We lay to for the whole of that day, while we had a 
good gam, Captain Nelson going aboard her for the fore- 
noon, and their first mate coming aboard of us. In the 
afternoon the two captains adjourned to the Clearchus, 
and the Henry's mate went back, followed by Mr. Baker 
in his boat. The Henry had no mail for us — none for me, 
at least — and I did not send any of my journal by her, 
only a brief letter to my mother, for the chances were that 
we should get home as soon as she. Each captain had 
whaling news of value to the other, and possibly the rum 
on the Clearchus was different from the Henry's, and they 
wanted to compare them. Captain Jefferson put off about 
sunset, and Mr. Baker came back. Much to the disappoint- 
ment of Captain Nelson, Captain Jefferson knew nothing 
about any new cruising ground, the place where the Apollo 
had filled up. 

A couple of days later we raised the spouts of a small 
pod of fairly large whales, and got one of fifty barrels, 
which Mr. Macy killed. The other boats chased for three 
hours in a heavy combing sea, but the whales got away. 
After that we had the usual luck, nothing extraordinary. 
We chased a good many times with no result, and got 
three whales which gave up their lives quietly. The whales 
on the New Zealand grounds were rather big fellows, for 
the most part, sixty barrels and upward; and some have 
been taken there which ran well over one hundred barrels 
— one of one hundred and thirty-seven barrels, I believe, 
although we took none over eighty. Several of these large 
whales gave us trouble. 

The first of these was met when we had been there 
about three weeks. The weather was boisterous, as it was 


apt to be while we were on those grounds. We raised a 
lone spout, very full and powerful, on the lee bow. The 
whale was not feeding, but was coming to windward, and 
we lowered three boats at once, Mr. Brown's, Mr. Macy's, 
and Captain Coffin's. Captain Coffin was hardly in condi- 
tion yet to be of the most service, but he was so eager to 
go that Captain Nelson let him. All three boats pulled out 
ahead of the whale to cut him off, and waited. When we 
first sighted the spout it was above three miles distant, the 
whale swimming in a business-like way and making five or 
six knots. We had plenty of time, therefore, to get into 
good positions, and we drifted down before the wind di- 
rectly upon his course. 

As he was approaching us head on, and as we were 
drifting without the use of sail or oars — although the men 
had their oars in their hands and held them in place, ready 
to use — there was nothing to give the whale warning of 
our presence, and he came on quite unalarmed. When he 
was a short distance away, he changed his course slightly, 
and it looked, for some seconds, as though he would hit 
the boat, head on, but Mr. Brown laid the boat around a 
bit, and we pulled a couple of strokes. The next moment 
his old head, like a cliff of black granite, weather-seamed 
and scarred, rose just beyond the bow oar. He spouted 
and pitched under like a flash; but the Prince drove one 
iron into him just above the fin. There was no chance for 
the second. The boat whirled around quickly, and we were 
off, with the thrashing flukes almost abeam. The next 
spout was thin blood. 

The Prince and Mr. Brown changed places, and Mr. 
Brown called to us to pull him up close so that he could 
put in another iron. No sooner had we dropped our oars 
and laid hold of the line to pull, than the whale milled 
short around, brought his nose accurately to the stem of 
the boat without giving Mr. Brown a chance, and pushed 
us fast astern. It was a delicate job for the Prince to hold 


us straight with the steering oar, and not to let the hoat 
swing around broadside, but for a boat length he did it. 
Mr. Brown, during that time, was pushing with all his 
strength on the harpoon, the sharp point against the 
whale's rubber-like snout, but the barb did not enter. 
We heard and saw the whale's jaw snap up twice, but of 
course it did not reach the boat. He spouted, sending the 
acrid vapor, thinly mixed with blood, over us, setting us 
all to choking, and almost turning me inside out. Then he 
withdrew a little, and lay there wallowing in the seas, 
snapping his jaw, and snapping his spout-hole with loud 
cracks. Sperm whales can snap the spout-hole, which is 
shaped much like the f-hole of a violin, with tremendous 
force. Meanwhile he was eyeing us with a malevolent eye, 
and no wonder. 

The other boats were coming up; they were nearly 
there. Mr. Brown thought he saw a chance, and ordered 
us to pull up close. We did, and the whale still lay there 
wallowing. We grounded on his back, and Mr. Brown 
pumped his lance up and down twice. There was no time 
for more, for the whale went down suddenly, with a flour- 
ish of his flukes, barely missing us. He did not go deep, 
however, for while we were watching the line and the sea, 
he floated up under us, belly up, with his jaw almost at 
right angles with his body. There was no time to escape. 
That jaw came down with a quick snap, cutting the boat 
cleanly in two between the tub- and the after-oar, spilling 
the men into the sea, and getting a tubful of line entangled 
in his teeth. I saw him spout thick blood just as I went 
over, clinging to my oar. 

When I had come to the surface, and had cleared the 
water out of my eyes, the whale was trying to get rid of 
that tub of whale line. I could hardly help laughing, al- 
though my situation was not one for laughter, the whale 
reminded me so strongly of a person who had got a mouth- 
ful of hair, or of the bristles from an old toothbrush. He 


seemed to feel almost the same disgust. The two other 
boats, coming up, were almost at his flukes, and the ship 
had come very near. The whale caught sight of her, and 
instantly made for her with a vigor unexpected in a whale 
that spouts thick blood. The ship was broadside on, and 
her sails were already aback, so that she could do nothing. 
The whale struck her with his head amidships. If he had 
been merely angry, and not hurt, that butting might very 
well have been a catastrophe for us. But the vigor with 
which he had started had ebbed rapidly away, and his butt 
was feeble, although I saw the upper masts quiver, and 
the masthead man was rattled about like a die in a box. 
Then he drew off and rammed again. That second attempt 
was more feeble yet. He could do no more than rub 
against the hull; and he passed under her, and floated to 
the surface on the other side, fin out, with no flurry, unless 
his feeble buttings had been his flurry. 

Mr. Macy and Captain Coffin were picking us up. The 
tub-oarsman was found floating amid the wreckage, his 
arm over his oar, unconscious. He did not recover con- 
sciousness for an hour, but then seemed to be all right. He 
must have been hit on the head by something, nobody 
could guess what. They would have thought it the teeth 
of the whale, except that the lower jaw, which contains 
all the teeth, is too narrow to reach both the tub- and the 
after-oarsman; and Black Man'el was again severely 
mauled by the teeth of the whale, on the same side that 
was so recently healed. This time it was not his arm, but 
his back. On that ebony surface there were three or four 
bloody wipes, where the teeth had ripped it in the process 
of closing. Black Man'el, however, did not miss a day's 
duty on account of it, taking his regular place in the boat 
when it was called away, although his back must have been 
lame and sore for days. 

That whale made eighty-five barrels. As I was watch- 
ing the mates cutting off the head, Peter stopped for a 
moment beside me. 


" He 's a scarred old lad," he said, " is n't he, Timmie ? 
Do you see the marks of teeth he 's carried around for 
many a year ? " 

I did see them ; old scars of the teeth of some other bull, 
running up diagonally from his mouth. That other bull 
must have bitten deep, for each tooth-mark was separate, 
and still formed a little hollow, like the little weathered 
hollows in a rock, where water gathers, or the regular 
marks of a drill. There were other scars, too, of wounds 
where the teeth seemed to have ripped and torn their way 

" How do they get those scars, Peter? Fighting, I sup- 
pose; but how do they fight? " 

" I 've never seen them fighting, lad. But those who 
have seen it tell me that they draw off from each other a 
little way, and go at each other full tilt. They turn on 
their side, like, to give their jaws play, and bite and 
wrench and tear. Sometimes they '11 use their jaws like 
fencing foils, without drawing off; but however they do 
it, they must be savage at it. If they fence, they don't 
wear masks." 

"Shall we see fighting whales, Peter?" 

He smiled. " We may see 'most anything, lad. It 's hard 
to tell. I 've never seen 'em, but perhaps my turn is due 
for that this voyage." 

I wished fervently that we might see it. I watched for 
it with new interest, and whenever we raised a pod I 
hoped that they might take it into their heads to fight — 
fight among themselves, not us. I told Peter of my hope 
one day. 

" Bless your heart, lad," he said, unsmiling, which was 
good of him, " they won't fight. They 're in the same 
school. Wait until you see a schoolmaster take on a fellow 
of about the same size that 's trying to get his job. Then 
you may see it." 

I knew nothing about schoolmasters, bat I was ashamed 


to ask, and I said nothing. We were trying-out at the time, 
and the air was filled with the acrid black smoke of 
scrap, and the deck covered with oil mixed with soot. Only 
the day before we had raised a pod of large whales, and I 
had had great hopes, for they were of a size to make a 
good fight if they took a notion to. But nothing seemed 
farther from their intention than to fight among them- 
selves. They led us a very pretty chase — from their point 
of view. We were pulling hard after them from sunrise 
until noon. Mr. Macy had the only chance. George Hall 
got an iron well into one, but it twisted off near the head, 
and all got away. 

We had scarcely got the boats on the davits when a 
whale rose and spouted, not a hundred yards from the 
ship. Mr. Baker bellowed out for a crew on the instant, 
and I ran to his boat, the first one there. The Prince, 
Peter, Kane, and the Admiral were the others. We had the 
boat in the water, tumbled in, and were pulling for the 
whale in less than a minute. The Prince struck with both 
irons, and the whale sounded at once, with a grand flour- 
ish of flukes. He sounded out very nearly all our line; so 
nearly all of it that we bent on a drug, while Mr. Baker 
hailed the ship for more. Mr. Tilton's boat was already 
in the water, beginning to pull toward us, but we held the 
whale at that depth, with but two flakes of line left in the 

Although that whale had not nearly had his spoutings 
out, he stayed down over an hour. Mr. Tilton stood by, his 
line bent to the end of ours, but Mr. Baker would not give 
up the whale until he had to. When the whale rose at last, 
he did not come up with a rush, on a breach, or half- 
breach, but he floated up, and came to the surface like an 
old waterlogged timber, plainly exhausted. There was 
nothing for Mr. Baker to do but to pull up and lance him 
at his leisure. Within ten minutes the whale was in his 
flurry, and in a short time after he was fast alongside the 


ship. Mr. Baker estimated him at eighty barrels, hut by 
hard work we had him cut-in and on board by dark, and 
the carcass cut adrift. 

It was now past the middle of the season, and we put 
into Wellington to fill our water-casks, to give the men a 
run ashore, and to get our mail. There was no mail for 
me, but I sent home another instalment of my journal, and 
I saw the town, which had little interest for me. There was 
only one town which I cared about seeing, and that was 
more than a year away, almost exactly on the other side 
of the world. I had a great desire to see at least one of 
the Marquesas Islands, but Wellington is not the Mar- 

When we got back to our cruising grounds, whales were 
getting scarce and wild and difficult of approach. The big 
whales seemed to have gone. We did get one forty-barrel 
bull, one of a small school that was running to leeward 
from another ship. We saw the ship in the distance, and 
we saw her boats ; but the whales were running faster than 
the boats could go. Our one bull we intercepted, but the 
rest ran away from us, straight to leeward, head out. It 
was useless to chase them. The strange boats did not get 
nearer to us than a mile and a half; then they gave it up, 
and went back to their ship, which bore away to the south- 
ward without an attempt to speak us. 

Captain Nelson must have made up his mind very sud- 
denly to get out of those waters. As soon as the trying- 
out of the forty-barrel bull was finished we stood away to 
the northward, for the Ellices, Gilberts, and Kingsmill; 
but most of all, I thought, to find those mysterious grounds 
where the Apollo had filled up. Just after we had filled 
away, Peter found me, and pointed in silence to the hori- 
zon. There was a faint haze, but I made out a pair of top- 
masts, with yards on them. 

" A brig? " I asked, with but faint interest. 

" A schooner," Peter answered. " I saw her from aloft." 


It dawned upon me then; it was the Battles, going the 
same way we were. I watched her draw away from us. 
Then I saw Captain Coffin watching, too. 


As we ran to the northward, we had the wind on the beam 
or aft of that, most of the time, usually brisk to strong, 
as fair a wind as we could have wished for. The hurricane 
season was about to begin. Hurricanes are most frequent 
in March and April, although occasionally there is a se- 
vere one toward the last of February; and their tracks 
most commonly cross the Fiji or Samoan Islands in a gen- 
eral southerly direction, then curving more and more to the 
eastward. We stood well to the west of Fiji, and were past 
the Ellices before the end of the southern summer, so that 
we escaped them entirely — if there were any — and were 
usually running about as fast as the old Clearchus was 
able, under the southeast trades, and under a regular 
trade-wind sky. 

It was seldom necessary to touch a brace or a halliard, 
and our crew had very little to do. The mastheads were 
kept manned, but I soon came to the conclusion that that 
was done merely as a matter of form, or from habit, and 
not for any practical purpose, for we raised spouts on two 
occasions on our way up without lowering or even chang- 
ing the course. Each time Captain Nelson came on deck, 
looked at the spoutings for a couple of minutes, and turned 
away without saying anything. And each time Mr. Baker 
asked him, " Lower, sir ? " rather wistfully, and the old 
man shook his head, and went below again. I did not know 
what to make of it, and Mr. Baker did not seem to know 
either. He appeared to be dumbfounded — completely 
flabbergasted — and he looked after the captain, and, on 
the second occasion, I heard him mutter that he 'd be eter- 
nally damned to hell-fire, or words to that effect — with 
sundry embellishments — if he knew what the captain was 
lip to. I made up my mind that the idea of finding the 


mythical Apollo island obsessed him. We had over two 
thousand barrels on board, and needed only three or four 
hundred to fill us up. Think of the disappointment of find- 
ing a gold mine, with nowhere to put the gold! Easy 
money, for the mere picking up, and no way of carrying 
it off. 

I had always been in the habit of standing by the bul- 
warks, when I had the chance, or sitting curled up in some 
favorable spot with an unobstructed view, and watching 
the water and the sky. There was more chance now than 
usually, and I would stand by the main rigging, or lie in 
a coil of rope by the heel of the bowsprit, for an hour at 
a time, and watch the Southern Ocean slip by. I generally 
had the " Navigators " in my hand, held open by my 
thumb, but I read very little. It is fine print, and it was 
much more interesting to watch the trade wind clouds, 
or to glance at the swaying masthead men, or at the birds 
which accompanied us. There was usually a frigate-bird or 
two, or a tropic-bird, although these birds were rare ; gan- 
nets and boobies and terns and many others. It was my 
delight to see a frigate-bird rise majestically in great 
circles, higher and higher, without a motion of his wings 
or his body that I could detect, until he was a mere speck 
in the blue. At sight of flying fish rising in flight, perhaps 
before albacore, or of a gannet or a booby that had been 
successful in fishing, he begins to drop, at first in circles; 
when still at a considerable height, he closes his wings, 
makes his body miraculously small, falls like a stone or a 
bullet, and comes up before the poor gannet, threatening, 
the robber that he is ! The gannet instantly drops the fish, 
the frigate dives through the air, and, getting it before it 
has fallen far, rises to eat. He did not always get his fish 
by robbery, but caught flying fish at the height of their 
flight in the air. I never saw one dive into the sea, and the 
men said they were unable to rise from the water, but must 
keep on the wing, waking or sleeping, from land to land. 


I never saw one rob a tropic-bird eitber, but tbey used 
sometimes to threaten the masthead men. 

One morning I was standing by the rail, Captain Coffin 
pacing the deck behind me, although it was not his watch. 
I should not speak of him as Captain, for he was not 
captain on the Clearchus, although I suppose still cap- 
tain of the Battles. We had run out of the trades, and 
we were trying to make an easterly course, but we were 
not making out very well. We had frequent showers, some 
of which were almost of the proportions of deluges; and 
calms and light airs from any point of the compass about 
a quarter of the time. When the wind did come, it was 
mostly ahead, and we made little progress. On the night 
before this morning, I remember, there was a great deal 
of phosphorescence in the water. The ship was scarcely 
moving, but the little ripples at her bow glowed brightly; 
her wake was a luminous road, stretching out far astern, 
every whirl and eddy a vortex of living light. I saw a 
shark clearly outlined in greenish light, and a sudden 
burst of fireworks at a little distance showed where a 
school of flying fish had been disturbed and driven from 
the water like the balls of a roman candle. 

I was thinking of those flying fish as I stood by the rail 
that morning, and I had brought my old battered glass 
along. It was a calm morning, hot and sticky, the sea 
fairly quiet. Suddenly I saw what I thought must be a 
school of flying fish break the water about a quarter of a 
mile away and take their flight. They looked too big for 
flying fish, their flight in the air too short, and I brought 
my glass to bear. I soon caught them again, and they cer- 
tainly did not look like fish, but I was not ready to believe 
they were what they looked like. I turned to Captain 
Coffin, and asked him. 

He stopped by my side, waving the glass away when I 
offered it to him. The creatures soon appeared again, com- 
ing out of the water in a spurt or gust. 


" Oh," he said, " flying squid." 

" But," I asked, " do squid fly ? " 

lie laughed. " No," he said, " no more than flying fish 
fly — nor so much. As you see. There must be something 
chasing them." 

At this moment the musical, quavering cry of the Ad- 
miral came down to us : " Bl-o-o-ows ! " 

The spout was dead to windward, about five or six miles 
off. I, at any rate, could not see it from the deck, even 
with my glass, there was such a quiver of heated air at the 
horizon. Captain Nelson came on deck, went up to the 
main crosstrees, and stayed there for some time, watch- 
ing. When he came down Captain Coffin asked him what 
he made of it. 

" Can't make out," he answered. " Something queer go- 
ing on. May be swordfish, or perhaps those big sharks; 
or killers, except for the latitude. We '11 stand up that 
way as fast as we can." 

"Lower, sir?" Mr. Baker asked, knowing well what 
the answer was likely to be. 

Captain Nelson shook his head. " Not yet." 

It took us a long time to get up anywhere near, but the 
spout remained very nearly stationary, and there was con- 
siderable white water raised about it. The light breeze, 
nearly dead ahead, died out, and we wallowed there for 
a quarter of an hour, in a flat calm. But we were near 
enough to see what was going on, and I watched through 
my glass. There were two whales instead of one, very dif- 
ferent in size. The smaller of the two seemed to be the 
centre of the commotion, and I caught several glimpses of 
bodies, gleaming brightly as they broke the surface for 
an instant. There must have been five or six of them, but 
I could not tell certainly whether they were sharks or 
swordfish or what. I had never seen a killer. The larger 
whale was making short, savage dashes at the attacking 
fish, but without any marked result, so far as I could see. 


I handed the glass to Captain Coffin. " Won't you look, 
sir, and tell me what they are ? " 

" I don't really need the glass, boy," he said, " to tell me 
that they 're sharks." But he took it, and held it to his 
eyes. " Sharks ; big devils, twenty-five or thirty feet long. 
That whale 's a small cow, and she must have a small calf 
under her fin. That 's what the sharks are after, and 
they '11 get it, too, if we don't get a breeze pretty quick." 

Small difference it could make to the whale what got it ! 
They were still keeping up the fight vigorously when a 
cooler breath came out of the southeast. It was only a puff, 
but soon there was another, which lasted longer; and be- 
fore many minutes the breath of cooler air was steady, 
and growing stronger. We were just on the northern edge 
of the southeast trades, and had edged into them, or they 
had passed us, which amounted to the same thing. Captain 
Nelson had been edging to the southward for some days, 
with just that in view. 

We gathered way again, and when we had got near 
enough, Captain Nelson ordered Mr. Baker and Mr. 
Brown to lower. The order he gave, however, reduced Mr. 
Baker to a stupefied silence. 

" I don't want you should hurt the whales," he said 
quietly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world 
for a whaler not to want to hurt whales. " Drive off those 
sharks, and kill them if you can. I 'm going to try to keep 
those spouts in sight," he went on, probably thinking that 
some explanation was necessary, or his mates might think 
he was losing his mind. " I 'm going to keep those spouts 
in sight, and see if they don't lead us to something worth 
while." And he turned away, muttering that it should be 
hereabouts if it was anywhere. 

We lowered, and pulled hard for the scene of combat. 
It was full time, for the cow was bitten and torn in 
many places, and could not have kept up the fight much 
longer. The larger whale — a bull, I thought — seemed 


about ready to give it up, and take himself off. There were 
six of the big sharks, but one of them was so badly hurt 
by one of the whales that he could barely drag himself 
off, and all of them had been marked. The insensibility of 
sharks to pain or injury is an extraordinary thing. This 
one had been cut nearly in two, but he had kept up the 
fight, his viscera trailing behind him in a long festoon, 
until one of the others had relieved him of them. The other 
sharks did not molest him further, being too intent on 
getting the more delicate morsel, which we could see by 
the side of its mother. Nearly the whole of one side of its 
flukes had been bitten off, and it was somewhat torn in 
several places, although not seriously injured. 

We put the sharks to flight, killing three, after one of 
them, in his thrashings, had got his tail into the boat, and 
wiped me across the cheek. It was like a wipe with a rasp, 
or coarse sandpaper, and took the outer skin completely 
off my right cheek. It was a long time in healing, and I 
had to be at my duties for nearly a month, with half my 
head tied up as if I had the toothache. 

The whales were going, swimming slowly, probably be- 
cause of the injuries to the cow, and to the reduced speed 
of the calf, owing to the loss of one fluke. The bull was 
at some distance, but he seemed to regulate his speed by 
that of the cow. We got back to the ship, one side of my 
face a mass of blood, and blood which had dripped into 
my shirt. I must have been a frightful-looking object. 
Such a hurt makes a great show, and always looks much 
worse than it is. I do not remember that I felt anything 
more than the inconvenience of it, and of having my head 
tied up for so long. Nobody thought it necessary to put 
anything on it — iodine or alcohol, or anything of the 
kind. I drew a bucket of sea-water, and washed most of 
the blood off, but that was all. 

We stood off at once after the whales. Fortunately, they 
did not swim directly to windward, and the ship was ablo 


to make the course, and to keep up with them. They 
seemed to be making for some definite place, and at night- 
fall we were not far behind them. Even Mr. Baker ap- 
peared to think that the old man knew what he was about. 
We reduced sail for the night, although it could have been 
no better than a guess on Captain Nelson's part how far 
he should reduce speed. With the first gleam of light — 
a little before six o'clock, or four bells, for we were not 
many degrees south of the equator — our best men were 
aent to the mastheads. Our best lookout was the Admiral, 
a Kanaka. There were no spouts to be seen. We had lost 
the whales. Sail was crowded on, and the Clearchus was 
soon making good speed under the steady trades, which 
had grown much stronger since the day before. 

We held on the course on which we had been sailing for 
nearly three hours. Then the Admiral's quavering cry 
came down to us, for he was the first to see it. 

" Ah bl-o-o-ows ! " 

It was a musical cry, but given with indifference. He 
had seen too many spouts to become excited over two and 
a half; for he had detected the little spout of the calf, 
close alongside its mother. There was no doubt that there 
was our quarry, although still miles away. We kept on 
after them, and continued to gain slowly, for another hour, 
the officers keeping an eye on the spouts, which we could 
now see from the deck, and occasionally glancing up at 
the Admiral. We had had breakfast, and I was doing the 
same thing as the officers, from my perch on the heel of 
the bowsprit. Suddenly I saw the Admiral straighten up. 
He looked far out ahead as if he could not believe his 
eyes. Then he gave an excited cry. 

" Bl-o-ws ! Ah bl-o-ws ! " It was not as musical as we 
were used to hear from the Admiral. " Blows ! Big school ! 
Hunnud whale ! All over ! " And he waved his arm to in- 
clude a wide arc. 

I could not see the new spouts, of course, from my place 


on deck, and I sprang into the fore rigging, clasping my 
old glass, which I had brought up with me after break- 
fast. Many others of the men swarmed up, but I was first, 
and I went rapidly up as far as I could get, and put the 
glass to my eyes. 

I did not see them at first, for it was about four bells — 
ten o'clock in the forenoon — I was looking to the east- 
ward, directly into the glare, and I was expecting to see 
them nearer than they were ; but at last I saw them. There 
were many spouts in the air at once over a wide arc of the 
sea; and the sun shining on them all, and glorifying them 
into tiny ostrich plumes, each on Ann McKim's hat. 

Every time that I saw a sperm whale's spout with the 
sun shining upon it, I thought of that hat of Ann McKim. 
Ann McKim was a few months older than I — she is yet, 
although that fact is not generally published — and when 
I left home she had just got her first plumed hat. It was 
a big, broad-brimmed hat of dark blue satin — or velvet, 
I do not know which — with a generous white ostrich 
plume sticking up from the brim at just the angle of a 
sperm whale's spout. I know she had bought it with her 
own money, and had trimmed it herself, for she told me 
so. No doubt such a hat was absurd, especially on a girl 
of fifteen, but it did not seem absurd to her, nor to me 
when I saw her with it on, the Sunday before I came 
away. But Ann McKim was sweet and lovely, and she 
would have lent beauty to any hat she chose to wear. 

The large school of whales did not seem to be going 
anywhere in particular as a body, although the individu- 
als of the school continually moved about, or sounded, or 
came up again. They may have been feeding. The bull and 
the wounded cow and calf which we had been chasing 
were evidently meaning to join the school, and we fol- 
lowed them, getting all the boats ready for lowering as we 
went. We were now getting the full sweep of the trades, 
steady and strong, and we gained on the three whales, so 


that we were in a position to see well what happened when 
they neared the school. 

A big bull swam out from the school to inspect the new- 
comers. He was not old and scarred, as most of the lone 
whales were, but as big as any of them, and in his prime. 
Although we were not far off, that means perhaps half a 
mile; and as but little of the whales was out of water, I 
could not see with any certainty what went on. The big 
bull at once joined the cow, and swam beside her for some 
distance, apparently trying to persuade her to leave her 
lord and come with him; an unnecessary proceeding, as 
that was just what she was doing. He seemed to pay no 
attention to the calf. It was no concern of his. The cow 
swam on, and took no notice of him, so far as I could see, 
but the other bull did not like it. He was not so very much 
smaller than the big one, and before I realized that there 
was anything on the programme, here he was, coming for 
the big bull, fire in his eye, I could imagine, and jaw 
dropped. When he was a hundred feet away, he turned 
over, nearly on his back, apparently, for I saw his jaw 
projecting above the surface of the water. 

The big bull was aware of the other just in time to slip 
out of the way, but not in time to escape entirely. The 
jaw closed on his small, and I saw the wounds made by 
the teeth, which tore out great pieces of blubber and flesh. 
By what seemed agreement, the two big whales turned 
about as soon as they could and went at each other full 
tilt. Their jaws locked, and they wrestled there for a min- 
ute, each seeming to try to break the jaw of the other, and 
tearing and thrashing the water into boiling fountains of 
spray. As we found out later, great gobs of flesh were torn 
from the sides of their heads. After a while they broke 
their hold, I could not see how, and they backed off and 
went at it again. 

This time the fight was fiercer than before, and it was 
impossible to see what was happening, or to see anything 


but white water. This round was a little longer than the 
first. The performance was repeated two or three times, 
and then I saw the boiling white water gradually become 
quiet. The two great bodies lay there for a few seconds, 
head to head; then the smaller of the whales moved off 
slowly away from the school. He seemed to have lost all 
interest in the cow, and the bigger one, satisfied that the 
other had definitely given up the fight, let him go in 
peace. Both whales seemed to be in distress. I saw the big 
one, as he swam to join the school, raise his head com- 
pletely out of water two or three times, and his jaw 
seemed to be slewed around so that it would not close 
properly. He had difficulty in moving it at all. 

Up to this point it had not seemed to be a propitious 
time for lowering, but when the fight was over, Mr. Tilton 
lowered at once, and went after the vanquished bull. He 
was still moving slowly, and the boat easily overtook him, 
and got fast. He made no fight at all, but lay fin out in 
fifteen minutes. His jaw was hanging down queerly, and 
when we got him alongside and began to cut-in, we found 
that it had been broken short off, and was hanging by the 
flesh. Many of his teeth were stove out, and he had terrible 
wounds in the head. 

Meanwhile the ship had kept off after the school, which 
began to show signs of moving along. We got pretty near 
it, however, and lowered three more boats, but we did not 
succeed in getting whales of any size. The school con- 
sisted principally of rather small cows, under the charge 
of two or three bulls as schoolmasters. We could not find 
the bull which had been fighting, and did not look for the 
others, for schoolmasters are always pugnacious devils. 
They have to be. We managed to get three small cows of 
about twenty barrels apiece before the school was well 
under way and left us. One of these cows was lost during 
the night, stripped by sharks and broken adrift, and much 
of another fell a prey to the sharks. Four whales at once 


alongside is almost too much to take care of. We got the 
blubber all hove in by sunset of the next day, and the car- 
casses cut adrift. They made only a hundred and twelve 
barrels altogether, only about as much as we might have 
expected to get from one really big whale in chose 


As soon as the trying-out was finished, we stood off to the 
southeast, or a little southerly of that- The trades here 
were blowing strong from the east, and that was as close 
as the Clearchus would saiL After a day of tins, we came 
about on the other tack. We could none of us understand 
why, unless some of the officers did, but the large school 
of whales had disappeared almost directly to windward, 
and Captain Nelson may have been trying to see where 
they had gone. There was a fairly rapid drift of the sur- 
face water, also from the east, as would be expected. Al- 
though I knew practically nothing about it, I had formed 
the theory that whales generally travelled against the 
warmer ocean currents. I had not carried my theory so far 
as to account for their doing so, but I supposed it had to 
do with the food supply. That seems reasonable now, for it 
is at the bottom of all migrations; not comfort, nor pleas- 
ure, but food, and the ease of getting it. 

We did not see that school again, but early in the morn- 
ing of the second day, being then in longitude 162° W., 
latitude 8* S., by the captain's — and my own — observa- 
tions, we came upon three islands. They were very small 
islands, roughly about a mile long and half a mile wide, 
each a sort of crescent, and forming, as I now think, 
parts of the rim of a crater but recently elevated above 
the surface. They were not shown on any of our charts, 
and could not have been exposed to the sun and winds 
and waves for many years, for they were almost utterly 
bare; perhaps a hundred feet high at the highest point, 
and showing nothing but rock and dried mud and ooze 
from the bed of the sea. We did not land on them, but at 
only one place could I make out with my glass a spot of 

834 SHE BLOWS!" 

green, and that was only about a couple of feet square. 
Possibly some bird had dropped a seed there, or a coconut 
had drifted ashore, or the seeds of beach grass in a mass 
of drifting seaweed. Beaches had begun to form, especially 
on the windward side. 

The captain having satisfied himself about the waters, 
we began cruising for whales in earnest, for we had seen 
a couple of pods earlier in the day. We had almost sunk 
the islands below the horizon before we raised another 
spout. While we were in this neighborhood a day rarely 
passed without our seeing any. There were two spouts 
this time. We worked the ship to windward of them, and 
lowered three boats, leaving Mr. Tilton and Captain Cof- 
fin aboard the ship. Before we reached them, the whales 
sounded, without having seen us, and we waited, tossing 
on the seas, for them to rise. 

When we had waited for nearly an hour, they suddenly 
spouted near Mr. Baker and Mr. Macy, at the other end 
of the line from us. We had not seen them rise. All three 
boats started for them. We had a long way to go, and it 
was hard pulling, for the sea was heavy. The ship was 
well to windward, and the whales had spread out. None 
of us could see what was going on ahead of us, but we 
were putting our last ounce of strength into pulling — at 
least, I was — when Mr. Brown told us to take it easy, 
for they had sounded again. I was glad that they had 
shown so much sense. 

Those whales kept up that sort of thing for five risings, 
always working to windward slowly, and the ship work- 
ing to windward ahead of us. It got to be nearly sunset, 
and the ship showed a little white flag at her peak, recall- 
ing us. We did not know it, however, as we were keeping 
head to the sea, and the ship was behind our backs. Mr. 
Brown knew it. At that moment one of the whales rounded 
out directly astern, and head on. As it was a good chance, 
Mr. Brown ignored the signal, heaving on the steering 
oar, and laying the boat around. 


"■ Now," he said, " a dozen good strokes, boys." 

We gave him a dozen, and then a dozen more. He 
nodded to the Prince, who took in his oar swiftly and 
silently, and stood up. The black head of the whale shot 
by, and Mr. Brown threw all his weight on the oar, bring- 
ing the boat's head around. 

" Give it to him ! " he cried. " Stern all ! " 

The Prince had darted; he threw his second iron just as 
we bumped terrifically into the body of the whale. Then 
we backed off as the flukes went into the air, came down 
on the surface thunderously, and swept from side to side. 
Again his flukes went up, and the whale sounded. He 
sounded at great speed and the line whistled out of the 
tub. I confess that I was afraid of it as the coils writhed 
past my hands and pounded a tattoo on my oar. One tub 
was out. There had been no time for Mr. Brown and the 
Prince to change places, and a " drug " was being bent on 
to the end of the line in the second tub, as fast as the men 
could work. It was no sooner fast than it was whisked out 
of their hands and overboard. 

Mr. Brown smiled slowly. " Well," he said, " that was 
soon settled. Looks as if the joke was on us. Guess we 'd 
better have let him alone." 

The whale had gone off with two irons, two tubs of line, 
and a drug. The chance was that we should never see 
any of them again, for it was almost too dark to see any- 
thing, and it would be pitch-black in half an hour. We 
turned and pulled easily toward the ship, which was 
showing a light, two miles to windward. The boat lan- 
terns were set before we had gone far. 

We had made perhaps half the distance to the ship 
when we heard, out of the darkness ahead, shouts and 
commands and a commotion in the water that was more 
than the wash of the sea. Mr. Brown peered ahead. 

He could not make out much. " Stand up, Tony," he 
said, " and see what you make it. By the sounds it 's Mr. 
Baker, and he 'a fast." 


The Prince stood up. Those black men hare a strange 
faculty of seeing in the dark. He reported that it was Mr. 
Baker fast to a whale, and he thought it was our whale. 

By this time we were almost up with the commotion. Mr. 
Brown headed us over that way, and we pulled harder. 
As soon as we were within hail he called out, asking if the 
whale had irons in him. I could not see what the state of 
affairs was, for I had to keep my eyes astern; but I 
judged from the sounds that Mr. Baker was close along- 
side, and was lancing, or just about to. The answer was 
that the whale had irons in him. 

" Those irons are mine," Mr. Brown shouted, " and I 
want to kill him ! " 

I was surprised, for I did not see then, and I do not 
see now, why it should be any pleasure to a man like Mr. 
Brown to pump a lance up and down in the in'ards of a 
whale. If it had been Mr. Baker I could have understood 

Between grunts and curses Mr. Baker replied that it 
was too late, for he had just attended to that matter, and 
we had better go astern a little, as the whale was going 
into his flurry. 

Mr. Brown said nothing — there was nothing to say — 
and the whale proceeded to turn fin out without any 
flurry at all. 

Mr. Baker then set his lights to signal the ship, and she 
bore down upon us. It was a long, hard job getting that 
whale alongside in the pitch darkness and the heavy sea, 
and it was not done and the men on board until very late 
in the evening. Even then it was not done, we found. Ly- 
ing hove to, as we were, the ship forging ahead a little, 
with a very heavy sea running, she would bring up, at 
every roll, with a tremendous jerk on the fluke chain. At 
last the chain parted — shackle pin snapped — and the 
carcass began to drift away. It was Mr. Macy's watch, 
and he sprang quickly into the quarter boat, bent the line 


to an iron, and struck as the body drifted beneath him. He 
checked it with the line, and managed to get another iron 
in, fast to a second line, before it had drifted out of reach. 
Then the lines were paid out to their whole length, and the 
spring of the lines held the carcass until sunrise. In the 
morning we had all our work to do over again, but we 
got the blubber hove aboard before sunset. The whale 
made sixty-five barrels. 

While we were trying-out that whale we raised another 
pod or small school. It was early in the afternoon. The 
wind had gone down somewhat, but was still strong, and 
the whales were basking lazily on the surface, laying 
flukes and fins. That sounds as if they were a flock of 
hens, curiously occupied. They were pretty near, although 
not close aboard, and it was too much for the captain, for 
these were large whales. Captain Nelson was getting more 
excited as the ship got more nearly filled up, and as he saw 
the abundance of large whales. It seemed to give him a 
physical pain to realize that here was a fortune at his 
hand, and he could not take it away. He could be de- 
pended upon to come to the same place the next voyage, 
but somebody else might get there first. In this case he 
called away every man that could be spared, and lowered 
two boats. 

We got none of those whales. We took every precaution 
to avoid scaring them, even to the prohibition of talking 
as we ran down under sail. There was plenty of sea to 
drown any noise that we might have made, but we were a 
silent company. In spite of all our care, however, we could 
not get nearer than a quarter of a mile. At about that dis- 
tance the nearest rounded out flukes, and went under ; and 
the others followed slowly and solemnly, without fuss, 
merely going under the surface and swimming. We 
rounded to, not knowing whether they had gone deep, or 
where they might come up again; but there they were, 
almost immediately, spouting lazily, half a mile away, 


basking on the surface, and keeping exact run of tha 
boats. We kept up that game of hide-and-seek all the 
afternoon. We could not get near them, whatever we did, 
although they did not run away. Toward sunset we pulled 
back to the ship, rather crestfallen, and left that pod of 
seventy-barrel whales to go to bed in peace or to indulge 
in dissipation, as they pleased. There were enough whales 
there to fill us up entirely and one or two over. Five or 
six such whales would have filled us up, and more. 

We finished our trying-out without seeing any more 
whales, but before the cleaning-up was more than begun, 
we raised a lone spout. We lowered three boats for him, 
but mine was not among them, and I watched the proceed- 
ings through my glass. They caught up with him about a 
mile from the ship. Perhaps it is more exact to say that he 
caught them there, for he attacked the first boat as soon 
as he got a sight of it, driving at it at once with his mouth 
open. It was Mr. Baker's boat, and Starbuck had no 
chance to do anything, for the whale went a little under, a 
short distance from the boat, came up under it, belly up, 
and like lightning, and caught it fairly forward of amid- 
ships. He came up so hard that he carried it into the air, 
bow first, and the men all fell out. Then he gave it a little 
shake, as a terrier shakes a rat, but he did not close hard, 
although he sprung all the planks. The boat then slipped 
out of his jaws and into the water, where it lay for a few 
moments, leaking like a sieve. 

The whale nosed about among the debris, butting the 
boat from side to side, cutting with his flukes at every 
floating thing that touched them, mast, sail, oars, tubs, and 
water-kegs. Mr. Tilton came up while he was so engaged, 
and Azevedo put two irons into him ; whereupon he turned 
upon Mr. Tilton's boat, and before they could do any- 
thing toward making their escape, he served it as he had 
served Mr. Baker's, but stove it completely. 

There were now two boats' crews swimming about in 


the sea, and making away, as fast as they could, from the 
neighborhood of the stove boats. I tried to count heads, 
and although I could not be certain, because of their con- 
tinual bobbing out of sight behind seas, I thought that 
they were all there. The truculent whale was having a 
good time, cutting about amid the floating wreckage, 
knocking the parts of the boats out of the way with his 
head, and instantly slamming anything that he felt with 
his flukes. In this process he succeeded in getting himself 
thoroughly entangled in the line, so that he appeared al- 
most as if he were enclosed in a net. Mr. Brown's boat 
was then called away to help, and I could not follow the 
fight closely, but was to get into it instead. 

Meanwhile Mr. 'Macy had been trying to get into it. It 
was inviting disaster to go in and put an iron into the 
whale, but Mr. Macy would have done it if he could. He 
simply could not do it, the whale thrashed about so. At 
last, in his ragings, the whale saw Mr. Macy's boat just 
beyond the circle of wreckage, and made for it. By skil- 
ful use of the steering oar Mr. Macy avoided his rush, 
and Hall, the boatsteerer, seizing the whaling gun, fired 
a bomb into him as he passed just beyond darting dis- 
tance. That was twice repeated before we came up, with- 
out noticeable effect upon the whale, and Mr. Macy had 
all he could do to keep the boat out of those jaws, for the 
whale had taken the offensive, and was doing well. I had 
this part of the story from George Hall, himself, after we 
got back to the ship. 

We had been taking down an empty cask, with one of 
our canvas flags, such as we used on our drugs, stuck in 
the bung-hole. When we got as near as we could, we left 
this cask floating, and retired a little, putting the cask 
between us and, the whale. The light cask, as large as a 
hogshead, floating high, soon drew the attention of the 
whale, which left Mr. Macy, and went for it. The antics 
of the cask under the repeated buttings of the whale were 


comical. It was nearly as light, in comparison with the 
strength of the whale, as a football. When he struck it 
with his nose it gave out a resounding Ping-g! and leaped 
into the air. This exasperated him further. He could see 
nothing, think of nothing, but that resounding cask. He 
chased it, and butted it again. Again the loud, deep 
Ping-g! He butted it again and again; chased it and 
knocked it from side to side, made frantic by its elastic 
resistance. Our whole crew went into spasms of laughter, 
regardless of the fact that we had something else to do 
than to laugh at the antics of a crazy whale, and that, at 
any instant, he might transfer his attention to us. The 
loaded boat would not act as the cask did. 

We edged cautiously toward the whale, Mr. Brown 
keeping out of his range of vision, and Mr. Macy creeping 
up on his other side. Mr. Macy fired another bomb into 
him before the Prince could dart or lance. He was pre- 
pared to do either, but at the report of Mr. Macy's gun, 
Mr. Brown told him to use our gun. The whale had given 
a little convulsive shiver on receiving the bomb, but there 
was no other result, although the bomb must have ex- 
ploded in his in'ards somewhere, as must the other three 
that Hall had sent into him. The Prince fired twice, and 
Mr. Macy once more, which exhausted his stock of bombs ; 
but the whale did not relax his attentions to the cask, 
which seemed to exert a peculiar fascination. All this time 
he was butting it, and it was responding with a Ping-g! 
and a leap into the air. 

Suddenly he caught sight of the ship, which had borne 
down upon us, and was pretty near. He left the cask, 
headed for her, and went under. We could do nothing but 
watch. After butting the ship, the whale must have come 
up on the other side of her, for the men on deck ran over 
to that side. A few seconds later I heard the reports of 
whaling guns — they are not to be mistaken — and then 
more, and Mr. Brown and Mr. Macy proceeded quietly to 


gathering in the swimming crews, who had been in the 
water about an hour. We did not take the stove boats and 
their gear on that trip, but pulled at once to the ship. 

On getting to her we found the whale dead alongside, 
right in position, and the men getting the fluke chain 
ready. He had had eleven bombs exploded in him; but 
what finished him was the thorough lancing by Captain 
Coffin, who had got out on the wales, held on by the main 
chains, leaned out and pumped his lance up and down in 
his life. The bombs must have done their work after a 
fashion, for before he was lanced the whale had vomited 
up a great number of pieces of cuttle fish. Among the 
pieces of squid were the remnants of a shark of good size. 
All the fragments had not disappeared when we got there. 

Poor Pct<"r. wet as he was, and the sailmaker had to go 
at once into the hold to see what damage had been done. 
They were down there three hours, but could find no 
damage, and the ship was not leaking more than she did 
before, which was but a few strokes a day, and just 
enough to keep her sweet — if a whaler can be called 
sweet. The whale must have struck square upon the keel, 
not with full force. Meanwhile we pulled back again, got 
the stove boats and their gear, and pulled to the ship. 
More work for Peter. But that whale tried out over ninety 

That was the last fighting whale that we met. We were 
very nearly filled up, but Captain Nelson could not seem 
to let well enough alone. We kept on taking whales, easily 
taken and of a good size, until the ship would not have 
held another bucket of oil anywhere. Even the try-pots 
were full, and the cooling-tank, and the spare pots on 
deck, and every receptacle that he could think of. He went 
so far as to get some of our water-casks on deck, empty 
out the water, and fill them with oil, saying that there were 
plenty of places where we could get water on the way 
home. He was going home by Cape Horn. I only wonder 


that he did not fill the copper dippers and the tin cans 
with oil. No doubt he would have done so if they had 
held enough to make any appreciable difference. We had 
over twenty-six hundred barrels of oil on board, and 
twenty-four hundred was all we were supposed to hold. 

He went back to take a last look at the islands, and 
make more careful observations. It did not take long, only 
a few hours, for it happened that they were in sight at 
our last trying-out. In all our cruising in that neighbor- 
hood we had never been far from them, often within 
thirty miles or so, their barren heights in plain sight on a 
fairly clear day. I never saw a figure of greater dejection 
and melancholy than Captain Nelson when we came in 
sight of the leeward side. There was a school of large 
whales, perhaps twenty-five or thirty of them basking on 
the surface. They were very tame, so tame that we nearly 
ran into two of them before they would move out of the 
course of the ship. They seemed to know that we were a 
full ship, and that we could not take any more if we 
wanted to. Captain Nelson almost groaned aloud. 

We bore away to the southward, intending to make 
Tahiti, to get more water-casks, and a fresh supply of 
water. Tahiti lies about southeast from our point of de- 
parture, but we were obliged to start to the south to take 
advantage of the trades. Peter was busy in making new 
boats out of the remains of the two which had been stove 
two or three weeks before. He did not hurry at his work, 
for he was pretty tired, as we all were. The rest of us did 
nothing to speak of, merely such patching of rigging as 
was necessary. 


There was no incident until we got within sight of Tahiti. 
I was leaning against the bench, watching Peter's leis- 
urely progress with the boat. This boat was the one which 
had been cut in two by the whale. The other one was fin- 
ished, painted, and bottom up on the after house. Captain 
Nelson meant to trade all his spare boats, which had been 
stove, among the islands. Not that those boats were not 
good and seaworthy — Peter's workmanship could not be 
other than that; but the captain seemed to think that they 
were more desirable for trading purposes than for chasing 
whales. I did not know about that, but there was no more 
chasing whales to be done on that voyage. Whaleboats 
were much in demand in all the islands, and would bring 
a good price in trade. So these boats, glistening in their 
coats of fresh paint, were put on the after house, and cov- 
ered with an old sail to keep them from blistering in the 
hot sun. 

Peter had been saying nothing, but pottering pleasantly 
about his pleasant work, a half-smile on his leathery 
face. There was a fascination for me in watching Peter, 
and I had said nothing either. There is always a fascina- 
tion in watching a thoroughgoing workman, but especially 
a boatbuilder or a shipbuilder or a blacksmith; a real 
smith, not merely a shoer of horses. It is so with me, at 
least, although there is almost as much in watching a 
really skilful cabinet-maker like Oman. I suppose the 
cabinet-maker's work should possess more fascination, as 
such a man has progressed several grades beyond the 
others. Perhaps it is a little beyond me, or it may be be- 
cause of my contempt for glue. A cabinet-maker uses a 
deal of glue. 

Peter looked up at last, and glanced ahead. When he 


looked down at his work again his half-smile had broad- 
ened into a grin. 

" There 's Tahiti, lad," he said. 

I nodded. " Yes, I know. There 's nothing to see yet." 

Peter was bending over his work, and he gave a queer 

" Oh, I don't know," he said. " You never can tell what 
you may see until you look. You might see an old friend, 
Timmie. A real sailor always knows what shows above the 
horizon, and sometimes what 's beyond, if it ain't too 

This speech of Peter's nettled me a little, for I thought 
I was a real sailor by this time. I looked around carefully. 
It was pretty clear, with occasional heavy clouds, and 
deep shadows under them. There was one such cloud away 
down to the northward, and I thought that I saw a vessel 
in its shadow. The clouds were moving briskly, and as I 
watched, the sun suddenly shone there, and illumined the 
topsail yards of a schooner and the upper half of her 
lower sails. It was like a spotlight in a theatre, suddenly 
shoving the vessel into plain view against the shadows 
which surrounded her. There was but one such rig in all 
the seven seas. It was the Annie Battles. She had left 
Papeete within an hour, probably, and was standing to the 

I sighed. " Just our luck," I said. "If she had only 
been a few hours later ! " 

" Would you call it good luck, or bad, Timmie ? " 

" I should call it hard luck, Peter. Would n't you? " 

" Well," he answered slowly, " she ain't mine, and I 
don't believe in looking for trouble. I suppose Cap'n Cof- 
fin calls it hard luck. You can see for yourself." And he 
jerked his head in the direction of the after house. 

There stood Captain Coffin, a glass glued to his eye. 
He said nothing, but he had no need to. Anybody could 
tell from his face what his thoughts were. 


At Papeete we got our water, and our extra casks, al- 
though some of them had to be lashed on deck, as the hold 
was full. It took several days to get this done, for extra 
casks were not plentiful, and the men could not be denied 
some liberty ashore. The pleasures that Papeete offered to 
our shore- famished men were alluring, and it was hard to 
get them back. I could understand this, for I went ashore 
too. I managed to resist the allurements of the place, 
thanks more to Peter than to any tendency on my own part 
to asceticism, and I had a thoroughly good time. When I 
got back to the ship I found that Captain Coffin had been 
making inquiries, and had found that the Annie Battles, 
under the name of the Seafoam, had sailed on a trading 
trip among the islands to the eastward, the Paumotus and 
the Marquesas. He was as excited as a boy, and full of 
eagerness and glee. 

We got our men back at last, and sailed to the north- 
ward. I was surprised at this, for we were bound home, 
and for the most rapid passage* around the Horn we 
should have started out to the southward ; but I thought 
it likely that Captain Coffin had persuaded Captain Nel- 
son to have a last try at the Battles. If she stopped at the 
islands, as she would, making frequent stops, we should be 
close on her heels, and might reasonably hope to catch 
her. At one of the Marquesas Islands, too, there was a 
well-known spring of very good water, emptying on the 
beach. Whalers often touched there for water, and it 
might have been in Captain Nelson's mind to fill up his 
casks there for the long run around the Horn. 

The days passed, and nothing happened. Whatever 
eagerness I had felt oozed away; but Captain Coffin's did 
not, I judged. He was silent, restless, tense with it, espe- 
cially as we began to raise the Paumotus, one after an- 
other. These are atolls, with the usual coral reefs, sea- 
beach, and lagoon, none of them more than a few feet 
above sea level. The topmasts of the Battles would be 


easily seen above them, unless some unusually tall coco- 
nut trees were in the way. We did not go far into the 
archipelago, for it is dangerous navigation there for a ves- 
sel as large as the Clearchus, and one no more easily 
manageable. The passages are filled with hidden dangers, 
and the currents swift and treacherous. 

We had been searching, in a superficial way, for a 
week or more, when, one morning, dawn showed us a small 
atoll, a few miles long. We heard the dull boom of the , 
surf, and with the growing light we saw a long white 
beach, crowned with green vegetation. A few stunted coco- 
palms showed their green tufts, and beyond the palms the 
familiar topsail yards of the Battles. There was no sign 
of habitation, and we found out later that this atoll was 
uninhabited, and visited only occasionally by canoe par- 
ties from some other atoll, in search of eggs, or fish, or 
adventure. At the time it seemed strange to me that some- 
body from the crew of the Battles had not seen us. The 
Clearchus must have been as familiar to them as the Bat- 
tles was to us. Then I concluded that they had not seen us 
because they were close under the palms, and had had no 
lookout to seaward, and perhaps had been asleep. I was 
right in one thing: they had been asleep. They were not 
asleep now, for, as we worked around to find the opening 
into the lagoon, we heard faint noises, as if they were 
shouting to one another. 

When we reached a point from which we could see into 
the lagoon, we saw that the schooner was plainly aground*; 
there were a number of large canoes drawn up on the 
shore; and there on the beach was the crew of the Battles, 
surrounded by natives, and fighting for their lives. I heard 
no guns, and supposed that they must have been lured 
ashore by the prospect of trade, and then attacked. 

Captain Nelson did nothing immediately, but turned to 
Captain Coffin. I chanced to be near them at the time. 

" What do you think, Fred ? " he asked. " Shall we try 


to help your crew there? They 're no better than pirates, 
and I 've no doubt the Kanakas have the right of it." 
Some particularly villainous example of thievery on the 
part of the Battles was probably at the bottom of the 
quarrel. " But I suppose we 've got to." 

Captain Coffin nodded. " I want to settle their hash my- 

I was on tiptoe with that laughing exhilaration that 
always came upon me before a fight of any kind, and I 
found that I had been afraid that Captain Nelson would 
stay out of it. 

I dived below, where I gathered all the arms from the 
cabin; and, the steward helping me, I got them on deck. 
I found three boats down. They were Mr. Macy's, Cap- 
tain Coffin's, and mine, in which the. captain was going 
in place of Mr. Brown. There was some danger to the 
ship in leaving her so lightly manned, for the islanders 
might take it into their heads to attack her; but he took 
the chance. I had an oak wagon-spoke in addition to a 
spade. I had found it among the firewood taken on at New 
Bedford. A wagon-spoke is an excellent weapon, and that 
was not the only time I used one. 

It took us some time to find the opening in the reef. 
There were several false leads, and we found the break 
narrow when we hit upon it. I wondered that the Battles 
had been able to get through. 

The fighting was going on at the head of the lagoon, a 
little over half a mile from the point where we entered, 
too far off to see what had been happening. All we could 
see from that distance was a confused mass of men, and 
all we heard was a confused shouting. After we had 
straightened out on the course to the beach, I saw nothing 
but the backs and the oars of the men before me, Captain 
Nelson at the steering oar, and the other boats out of the 
tail of my eye. We were a little in advance. 

The shouting grew in volume as we approached the 


shore, but I heard no white man's shout. They had no 
breath to waste. We were perhaps an eighth of a mile 
from shore when Captain Nelson spoke quietly, saying 
that some twenty of the islanders were swimming out to 
meet us. 

" Be ready with your knives and spades, boys," he said. 
" Don't let them get hold of your oars." 

The men were not supposed to have knives — at least, 
not with sharp points, but two or three of the Portuguese 
produced them, and took them between their teeth; and 
there were two knives in each boat, and the hatchet. 

However, we pulled away from them and grounded on 
the beach. The shock of it very nearly sent me on my back 
in the bottom of the boat. I saw Captain Nelson covering 
our landing with his Spencer, and I saw him raise it to 
his shoulder and fire once. Then we tumbled out, I with 
my spade and my wagon-spoke. A spear whistled over my 
shoulder, making a flesh wound, and I gave a roar, and 
rushed upon the irregular line of islanders. As I ran, I 
remember vaguely that I laughed and shouted. 

I have no clear recollection of what happened, but I 
do know that I had no fear of anything, I had an utter 
insensibility to pain, and a fierce joy in mere fighting. My 
wagon-spoke was a more handy weapon than the spade, 
which I used to ward off blows aimed at me, while I 
wielded the wagon-spoke as a club. It was a very good 
club, well-balanced and heavy, with sharp corners on the 
hub end. I was pretty strong then, and could swing it to 
some purpose. The natives — I do not like to call them 
savages — had been armed with spears of hard wood, as 
dangerous as steel-pointed spears, and with a war-club of 
peculiar shape, made of ironwood. Most of them had cast 
their spears by this time, and fought with their clubs, 
much as I did. 

I do not know just how many islanders there were, but 
there must have been well over a hundred altogether. 


There were eighteen of us, and about twenty in the crew 
of the Battles; but many of the Battles' men had been 
killed or disabled before we got there. There could not 
have been more than a half a dozen left on their feet. I 
saw Mr. Wallet transfixed by a spear within six feet of 
me, the spear in the hands of a gigantic islander. I cannot 
remember that I felt a pang of pity when I saw Mr. Wal- 
let go down. I do not think that I had any feeling what- 
ever, or that I should have had whoever it had been. 

The man next to Mr. Wallet was evidently of a different 
calibre. He was bleeding from many wounds, and fighting 
like a fiend. The man with the spear wrenched it free 
from Wallet's body, and lunged at this man. He leaped 
forward, tore the spear from the other's grasp, and like 
lightning he plunged it into his body. It went clear 
through and came out at the back. It could not be got out 
again, as there were deep cuts upon it, making a series of 
saw-teeth on the edge of the long blade, and these teeth 
stuck on the ribs. He left it sticking there, looked quickly 
around, and caught sight of Captain Coffin. Apparently 
he had not seen him before. 

I found out a little later that the man was Drew, but I 
guessed as much then. He stood still for a moment, and I 
saw the changing expressions chase each other across his 
face. There was despair — for an instant — and then a 
hardening, and the fierce light came back to his eyes, and 
a scornful smile curled his lips, but hope was gone. Here 
was Coffin. That meant that he would be carried back and 
hanged if he survived this fight. He had to die, anyway, 
and he preferred to die fighting; but there were two or 
three of us that he meant to take with him. His first move 
was against Captain Coffin, who was engaged in a hand- 
to-hand fight with two natives. These natives, I think, were 
not much given to hand-to-hand work. They preferred to 
stand off at a safe distance from their enemies and call 
names. In this case they had depended upon their nuui- 


bers, and had been drawn into the close work and could 
not get out; but they were brave, although they preferred 
the method of ambush and massacre. 

Up to this time I had been in a condition of exaltation 
with the pure love of fighting. Man is a fighting animal. If 
he were not he would never have got so far. Whether right 
or wrong, it seems to me hopeless to try to crush out that 
instinct — but that is by the way. The events just de- 
scribed had made their impression on my eye, but at the 
time they made none on my brain. Now I roused from 
my daze, my brain resumed its activity with a rush, and 
I yelled a warning. 

Captain Coffin either did not hear me or did not dare to 
turn his head. Drew had grabbed up a war-club lying be- 
side a dead savage, and was trying to get at him, but his 
way was not clear. I leaped for him and yelled again. 
Other islanders were coming to the help of those engaged 
with Captain Coffin, and he was becoming the centre of 
the fighting. He was much the biggest white man there. 
Macy was nearly as tall, but did not give the impression 
of bigness and power that Captain Coffin did. I caught a 
glimpse of Mr. Macy coming up on the other side of Cap- 
tain Coffin, and remember wondering what had become of 
the Prince. It was the kind of a fight that I had imagined 
he would love. At the risk of my life I glanced about, and 
saw him just behind me, as if he was following to see 
that no harm came to me. There was the gleam of battle 
in his eye, his face was set, his lips drawn back in a tiger- 
snarl, showing his white teeth. They shone in his ebony 
face like a light at sea on a dark night. 

Captain Coffin might have heard my warning yells, but 
he gave no sign. It would have been death for him to look 
back. Drew was slowly making his way toward him, 
striking at the natives who got in his way. A big native 
disputed the way, and I got almost within reach. The 
islander gave before Drew's ferocious assault. Drew let 


him go, and pressed on toward Captain Coffin. I leaped 
again, and got within reach as he was in the act of bring- 
ing his club down on Captain Coffin's head. I struck with 
all my might, and the blow went true. Drew's wrist was 
broken, his head was laid open in a long line, and he tot- 
tered. At that instant I heard the dull report of a Spencer. 
Drew's body whirled about, and crumpled in a heap. 
Captain Nelson had done it, and the bullet had gone 
through Drew's body, striking down one of the natives. 

Relieved of the anxiety of the moment, I dropped my 
hands, and drew a long breath. That was no time for 
dropping my hands, and I was brought quickly back to the 
present by the prick of a spear. I squirmed away, and 
looked up to see a club descending. There was no time to 
use my club, or to raise my spade, which hung in my left 
hand. There was a rush beside me, and the Prince, appar- 
ently empty-handed, launched himself at my assailant. 
My head was saved, and both went down, just out of my 
reach. The Prince had broken his lance, but had saved 
the blade, which he plunged into the throat of the 
islander. At the same instant an ironwood war-club 
crashed down on his head. 

At that sight my fury returned. I have no knowledge 
of what followed in the next half-hour. I knew that not 
one of the Battles' crew was left on his feet, and I knew 
dimly that Kane was on one side of me, fighting with a 
wild joy, and that on the other Mr. Macy was fight- 
ing with equal fury. I have no doubt that he saved my 
life many times, for I knew no caution, and my only 
thought was to avenge the Prince. Mr. Macy's fury was 
of the cold kind — a cool head and a hot heart — which 
does so much more damage than a mere blind rage like 
mine. At last I realized that the islanders were trying to 
get at our boats. 

There were five or six times as many of them as of us, 
but Captain Nelson managed to keep his force between 


them and our boats. None of his men was killed except 
the Prince, but nearly all were wounded more or less seri- 
ously, and all were weary. I know that, at last, with re- 
turning sanity, I found myself hardly able to lift my club, 
and utterly unable to strike again with my reddened 
spade. We were being forced back to the boats. It looked 
like a day for the islanders, and if they would have let us 
we would have withdrawn. I heard nothing but a tumult 
of sound, and I could not see well. 

Suddenly there was a great shout from behind the na- 
tives, and I saw a considerable body of men break through 
the sparse vegetation which crowned the beach. It hap- 
pened before my eyes ; a crowd of men — white men, 
twenty-five or thirty of them — armed with lances, spades, 
and knives, issuing from that tangle to seaward, and rush- 
ing down on the rear of the islanders. They, poor chaps, 
gave one glance, then broke and ran. Some of them ran 
to their canoes, others ran directly into the water, and 
swam away, full tilt. The canoes followed, and we let 
them go. 

I knew we ought to put after them and see that they did 
no harm to the ship, but I could not have pulled a pound. 
Neither could most of the others. I could only stand there, 
my hands hanging limp at my sides, and gaze after the 
canoes. I watched them out of sight through the passage 
to the sea. I was dimly conscious of a young chap who 
walked around me, looking me over, but I paid him no 
attention. At last he stood still before me, grinning. He 
poked me in the ribs. I squirmed, for my ribs were sore. 

" Hello, Tim," he said. 

I looked at him then; looked at him long and hard, 
while he stood and grinned. It was Jimmy Appleby. 


Of that meeting with Jimmy Appleby the less said the 
better. I beheve that, in my wearied and weakened state, 
I broke down and cried, but I have no clear recollection. 
The first thing that I remember clearly is being well 
down the lagoon, a passenger in my own boat. Our new 
shipmates were doing the pulling, although those of the 
regular crew who were able sat on the thwarts beside the 
fresh men, and bent their backs with them. Two of our 
men, severely wounded, lay on the bottom of the boat, half 
under the thwarts, and there, too, was the body of the 
Prince, covered with the sail. Captain Nelson stood at the 
steering oar, his face grave and set, looking out ahead. I 
crawled up to my place on the midship thwart beside a 
stranger, and got my hands on my oar; and the stranger 
turned his head and gave me a smile. 

We got safely out of the lagoon to sea, and on board 
the ship. The canoes were far down to leeward. They had 
given the ship a wide berth, but might come back again, 
after we had gone, to pick up their dead. I did not know 
what customs they practised in that respect. I know I 
was surprised to find that it was not yet noon. It seemed 
to me that almost a lifetime had passed since we had left 
the ship that morning. The wounded were cared for at 
once. Then the body of the Prince was passed up, and 
laid on the hatch cover. I drew near to it, and found Peter 
beside me. I had forgotten Jimmy Appleby. 

Peter said nothing, but he laid his arm across my shoul- 
ders, and we saw the sailmaker come with a piece of old 
canvas, and his palm, and stitch the Prince up carefully, a 
few links of old chain cable at his feet. I saw the crew 
gathering with bared heads, and Captain Nelson standing 


with a little book, but I did not hear what he read. The 
man in that long white bundle — it shone dazzlingly in 
the hot sunshine — would not have been there except for 
me. I hid my face in my arm against the rigging, hot tears 
burned my eyes, and my shoulders shook; there was a 
gentle noise of canvas slipping on wood, a splash, and I 
raised my head to see Captain Nelson clapping his book 
shut, and the men as they turned away. 

Peter patted my shoulder. " Don't ye grieve, lad," he 
said. " He 'd have liked this way of it better. He was a 
good shipmate, if his skin was black. Come now, you 're 
wanted. A bite of dinner '11 do you a world of good." 

At that I am afraid I laughed. It was hysterical, but I 
was quieted somewhat, and I went below. 

I had not yet had a chance to hear Jimmy's story. It 
had to wait still longer, for the boats were sent ashore 
again in the afternoon, with all the new men, and some of 
ours. They buried the men of the Battles as well as they 
could. It was almost impossible to dig in that beach, for 
it was -ill coral below the very surface. Then they carried 
their boats across from the ocean side to the lagoon, not 
more than three or four hundred feet, but the low sum- 
mit thickly grown up with coconut-palms and low bushes 
and vines. It must have reminded Captain Coffin of the 
" haulover " at Nantucket, except for the growth. The 
" haulover " is nothing but bare sand, and I believe the 
sea had not broken through at that time. These boats 
which I speak of were those in which our new friends had 
come. I should not speak of them as our new friends, for 
many of them were old friends. 

Captain Coffin, with a boat's crew, stayed on the Bat- 
tles that night, looking her over. Jimmy did not, and I got 
his story. He was bursting with it. His ship was the John 
and Alice. After I left New Bedford his desire for the 
same sort of life, always strong, had become intense. He 
gave his parents no peace for nearly two years, finally 


threatening to run away if they wonld not let him go. 
They gave in at that, and in the summer of 1874 he 
shipped before the mast on the John and Alice. They had 
been out just about a year, had cruised off the River 
Plate, doubled the Horn, and covered the On Shore and 
Off Shore grounds. They were making their leisurely way 
toward Japan when the John and Alice was sunk by a 
whale in 145° W., 7° S., carrying their five hundred bar- 
rels of oil down with her. The crew took to the boats. 
There had been time to stow plenty of provisions and 
water in the boats, and they were making for Tahiti, 
which they would have reached safely, without doubt. But 
they sighted some of these low-lying islands, and went in 
among them. They had been sailing through the passages 
of the archipelago for two days. At daylight on that morn- 
ing they saw the topmasts of the Clearchus showing dimly 
in the distance, and the topmasts of the Battles and the 
coco-palms soon rose. They were making for the ship, 
passing just outside the line of surf which fringed the 
island, when they heard our tumult, and landed the best 
way they could. They managed it, but lost one of their 
boats in the surf, capsized and pretty badly stove. The 
surf had not been heavy, or they would have lost more, and 
possibly some men. Captain Nelson had the stove boat 
brought aboard for Peter's surgery. 

Of course Jimmy's narrative was not so briefly told as 
I have given it. He was discursive and conversational, and 
given to embellishment. I kept him up until late that 
night, telling me all he knew of my mother, my father, 
my brothers, Tom and Josh; and I asked him about all 
my friends, ending up with Ann McKim. About Ann he 
was enthusiastic, speaking of her in the slang of the day. 
I forget what expression he used, but it corresponded to 
" perfect peach." I could well believe it. 

Captain Coffin had found the Annie Battles pretty 
firmly aground, and the coral had punched a hole in her. 


It was not a hopeless hole, although enough to justify any 
master in abandoning his vessel. Captain Coffin was not 
that kind. All the stuff was taken out of her, and spread on 
the beach. Then she was hastily patched on the inside, and 
pumped out. That was very nearly enough to float her, 
but not quite, for the rise of the tide at this point is 
small. Still there was that little peak of hard, sharp coral, 
which they were afraid would tear out more of her plank- 
ing when eight boats were fast, with forty oars pulling at 
her. Our Kanakas had to go down and cut away the coral. 
Then she was beached, and hove down by our cutting- 
tackles from her mastheads to coconut-trunks. Her cut- 
ting-tackles had disappeared — probably thrown over- 

We all helped in this work, and I found that I had 
more bruises and unimportant wounds than I had believed 
possible; but the condition was common to all who had 
been in the fight, and I was interested in the work, which 
was familiar. We simply had to dispose of the corpses 
within a couple of days of beginning the work. That was 
an unpleasant job. We took them far down to leeward, 
and buried them hastily in a cavern we found in the coral, 
but that did not entirely get rid of the stench at the beach. 
It was probably from the bodies of the white men buried 
there — in very shallow graves. 

It took two weeks to get the Battles beached and re- 
paired. Then we got her afloat again, the topmasts and 
yards sent up, sails bent and everj^thing shipshape. With 
all her cargo — mostly trading stuff — piled on deck, we 
towed her out through the pass in the reef, and she was 
at sea again, where she belonged. She tied up alongside 
the Clearchus, and there began a wholesale transfer of 

The Battles first stowed eight hundred barrels of our 
oil, greatly relieving us. Most of her cargo of trading 
stuff had been taken on the Clearchus, indicating that we 
were likely to stop at the Marquesas, and possibly at 


some other islands. I was gratified at that, for I wanted 
to see the Marquesas. The division of water and provi- 
sions was unequal, the Battles being given enough to 
carry her home, while the Clearchus would be obliged to 
fill her water-casks, at least. At last she was ready to go. 
She cast off, for the sea, which had been unusually quiet 
all through the transfer, began to roughen. She did not 
go far, however, but lay hove to, no.t far from us. Captain 
Coffin was in the cabin with Captain Nelson, and I was 
sent for. 

I had watched the transfer of cargo and the selection 
of a crew for the Battles, with a mind at ease. I had 
taken it for granted that she would take the new men, and 
most of their boats. Jimmy was going, I knew, and I ac- 
cepted the fact with small regret, for I found that a sepa- 
ration of three years had severed many of the ties which 
had bound us together. I went into the cabin with no small 
wonder what they could want of me; probably nothing 
more than the same old bluish-white pitcher, with some- 
thing hot in it. 

That was not what they wanted. I was hardly in the 
cabin when Captain Coffin asked me whether I wanted to 
go with him. He added that he was going aboard the Bat- 
tles within a few minutes, and if I wished, he would. take 
me along. I was too dumbfounded to answer immediately, 
and Captain Nelson, taking my answer for granted, sent 
me out again at once, saying that I had only time to get 
my things together, and to hurry, at that. So I found my- 
self outside the cabin door, stumbling up the stairs, with- 
out having uttered a word. I hurried and got my belong- 
ings into my chest, carried the chest out, and went to bid 
a hasty good-bye to Peter, without having come to a deci- 
sion. There was a certain reluctance in my actions. I 
wanted more time; yes, more time, at least. But still I 
went. I said half a dozen words to Peter, and half a 
dozen words to Mr. Brown, whom I met on my way aft. 

If I had known the truth — and been willing to tell it, 


■which is quite a different matter — and if it had heen a 
question merely of choosing between Mr. Brown and 
Jimmy, I should have chosen Mr. Brown. Of course I was 
glad to see Jimmy, but he was only a boy, "with a boy's 
interest in things, and that did not satisfy me, possibly 
because I had been so long without companions of my 
own age. Mr. Brown seemed much more of a real com- 
panion, with interests which had come to be my own. I 
never saw him again. 

It is a curious thing how people go out of your life. 
Here was Mr. Brown, who, alone of the officers, had ad- 
mitted me to intimacy. I had become very fond of him; 
and he dropped out as suddenly and as completely as if 
he had fallen overboard. I do not like it. It is not right, 
I cannot reconcile myself to it, and I have never been 
able to understand it. For years I kept expecting to see 
him, but it is not likely now, for he would be nearly 
eighty, and probably he is dead long ago. He left 
the ship at once upon her arrival in New Bedford, and 
vanished. Why? I wish I knew. I found, upon inquiry, 
that his share of the voyage — his lay — was sent to an 
address in New York. I wrote, but nothing was known of 
him, and that ended the chapter. 

Peter I did see again. He became a frequent and wel- 
come visitor at my father's house, and later at my own. 
Ann McKim liked him, and she, my father, my mother, 
and Peter spent many an evening in going over the events 
of the voyage, a chart spread out, and all four heads bent 
over it. I sat back in the shadows and watched them. But I 
am getting ahead of my story. There is not much more to 
tell, so have a little patience, and it will be over. 

I was still in a sort of daze when I got aboard of the 
Battles, and she began to drop the Clearchus. I watched 
the old ship, with all sail set, sink below the horizon. 
When I could no longer make out even her topgallant 
yards, I turned, and went slowly below. I was to bunk in 
the cabin, I found, as Assistant Navigator, a totally un- 


necessary berth. Captain Coffin had two of the mates of 
the John and Alice, both good navigators, and he was a 
good navigator, of course; but there was room in the 
cabin for four, and he, in the kindness of his heart, gave 
the fourth berth to me. Before we got home I was made 
third mate, which was simply ridiculous. Probably Cap- 
tain Coffin wished to make it easy for me to get a third 
mate's berth on another voyage, which was kind and 
thoughtful. The Annie Battles was much overmanned, 
with a total of twenty-eight men, leaving forty-two on the 
Clearchus. With so many men there was not much for any 
one to do, although we managed to keep the men busy 

The run home was without incident worthy of remark. 
We reached Cape Horn in January, the middle of the 
southern summer, and had no great difficulty and no more 
bad weather than is always met there. In the cabin, as I 
was, although not yet a mate, I could not chum with 
Jimmy, who was before the mast, and I found it rather 
a lonesome berth. There was nothing for me to do but 
attend to my duties, which were light, and watch the 
schooner sail. She was a very fast and easy vessel, and 
very wet in a sea; but she was not in the same class as 
the Virginia, Marshall, master. If I had not had that ex- 
perience I should have enjoyed the Battles more. But I 
missed the discipline, the trimness, the everlasting Tight- 
ness of the Virginia. Having seen that, nothing less would 
ever satisfy me completely. 

It was when we crossed the line that I was made third 
mate. Not long after, in the latitude of about 15° N., we 
ran into a gale, which started the seams of the patch on 
the bottom. No doubt Cape Horn weather had something 
to do with it, but we had had no proper planking to mend 
it with, and it was rather weak. That started a leak which 
increased from day to day. With our extra men, Captain 
Coffin hoped that we could pump her home; but by the 
time we were off Hatteras it had increased so much thai 


the men were kept steadily at the pumps, and we put into 

I left the Battles at Norfolk. I was anxious to get home, 
and could not even wait for the boat, which would have 
been cheaper. I went by train, and got in at the old 
wooden station on Pearl Street — "deepo " we called it, 
early Egyptian architecture — with less than a dollar in 
my pocket. It was only a few blocks from my home, how- 
ever, and what use had I for money? I ran all the way. 

As I turned the last corner, I stopped with a gasp. I 
had barely escaped running into a girl — and such a girl ! 
I knew her at once, although she had blossomed since I 
went away, and she was wearing no ostrich plume in her 
hat. Jimmy had not exaggerated. 

She had stopped, too. She had to, for I brought to di- 
rectly in front of her. 

" Oh," she said, with a little smile, " I beg your par- 

" Ann ! " I said breathlessly. " Ann McKim, don't you 
know me? " 

I put out my hand, and her hand came slowly forward 
to meet it, while she looked up at me doubtfully. I 
watched the changing expression of her eyes. Recognition 
came into them suddenly, and she clasped my hand 

" Goody gracious ! " she cried. " It 's Tim, I do believe ! 
It 's not strange that I did n't know you ! How you 've 
grown and broadened! I might have taken you for your 
father. You 're as big as he is." 

" Am I ? " I grinned, holding to her hand as if it were 
my mooring. " Am I, Ann ? " 

" And you 're the color of new copper," she added. 
" Have you been home yet ? " 

I shook my head. " I was just going there when I 
nearly ran you down." 

" Well, go along, Timmie, for mercy's sake, and let 
your mother get a sight of you." She freed her hand 


gently, and gave me a little push. " Do they expect you ? " 

" No, I came by train. It '11 be a surprise." 

" Why did n't you let them know? " 

" Did n't think of it. We — but I '11 tell you all about 
it — " 

" To-night. I '11 come in pretty late — nearly nine 
o'clock. Good-bye." 

She was gone around the corner before I could say a 
word. I gaped at the corner, then ran on again. Our house 
was only a little way up the street. Nobody locked their 
doors in those days, and dashing up the steps without 
stopping, I threw open the front door. I stood for a mo- 
ment, with my hand on the doorknob, listening for a sound 
to let me know where anybody was. How often I had 
done just that! My mother might be in the kitchen, or 
upstairs in her room, sewing. I heard nothing but a faint 

"Mother!" I called. 

The humming continued. "Who's that?" my mother 
answered, as if she was busy. " Tom or Josh? I never can 
tell you apart by your voices. What are you home for 
now? Is anything the matter?" 

I snickered nervously. " It 's me, mother. It 's Tim." 

The humming stopped suddenly. " What ! It 's who ? " 

I snickered again. I knew so well just how she looked, 
stopping her sewing, her foot on the treadle, and her head 
up, listening. 

" It 's Tim. I 'm coming up." 

There was a shriek, and the sound of a chair falling. I 
bounded up the stairs, and met her. At sight of me she 
stopped for an instant. 

" Mercy! " she cried. " Is that my little Tim? " 

Then her arms were around me, and she was laughing 
and crying on my shoulder. 



Los Angeles 
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